By Tony Aiello

STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — The owners of a small business in Stamford are realizing they’ve had a big impact on the community they serve.

Customers are giving back to help the family recover from a devastating fire, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Monday.

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Belltown Barbers is operated by the Benevellis, brothers Kevin and Kyle and their mother Sue.

“We are blessed. We’re alive, we’re out. I’ve never experienced a fire before,” said Sue Benevelli.

Blessed – and now stressed after a smoky fire spread from an adjacent restaurant over the weekend.

“I was in the shop cutting hair and all of the sudden I smelled smoke. But we couldn’t see any smoke,” Kyle said. “I realized it was coming from the attic. I walked back outside and smoke was billowing out of both places.”

The shop was forced to close for ten weeks last year during the pandemic, but Kyle said business came back strong when they reopened. Lots of new customers, including New Yorkers who relocated.

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Belltown is the kind of place where clients become friends. Kids get their first haircut here and the barbers watch them grow up.

During the pandemic closure, a young boy painted a rock dubbed “Barber Pole Man” to show his appreciation for the Benevelli family.

(credit: CBS2)

“We keep that in the window and that’s not going anywhere,” Kyle said.

There’s so much work to do, including reupholstering barber chairs from the 1930s.

You can imagine the family’s delight that clients and neighbors are giving generously to a GoFundMe campaign to help the barbershop recover. It’s a lift to their spirits and a boost to their determination to come back stronger.

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The fire also damaged a new Mexican restaurant. Another GoFundMe has been set up to help them recover.

Tony Aiello