Frank Romeo sits at his spot at the Last Drop, half working, half keeping it real. The chalkboard on the wall to his right reads: Open Mic Tonight with Party Barber, and underneath his Clamato-and-beer, is a wooden coaster in the shape of a heart, carved for him by a friend. He comes and goes, taking care of tasks no one else thinks about such as bringing in patio gear from a growing storm outside or darting out to deliver a plate of hot pasta to an elderly lady. In a way, he’s Revelstoke’s Dude. Like Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, he’s a long haired, super chill, non-working but always somehow busy, dart-smoking, bar-sitting, truth-speaker.
Believe it or not, despite much bar-time, he’s as hard working paradoxically as he is unemployed, which is to say, exceptionally. He honestly hasn’t worked a day in the past 25 … (26?…) years. He has to think about that. At the same time, he’s always on duty for someone. His formal work may be non-existent, but being Frank Romeo is a busy 24-hour job. He’s on-call much of the time with everyone in town, primarily elderly Italians, of whom he takes special care. Just catching Romeo, you’ll more often than not find him on the way to bringing someone a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in a plate wrapped in celuphane. “That’s happiness, giving that old lady pasta,” he says. “Money can’t buy that.”
Romeo is a rare fourth-generation Revelstokian, and as he likes to point out, knows everybody. He is also a formidable pasta chef, proud Italian, and evidently the Italian community’s own Uber Eats. When we first met he was mid-delivery with fresh homemade fettuccine waiting at home on the stove, and insisted I stop by for a take-away container. And so, that was that. Later, he poured me a glass of red with the name on the bottle ‘Enigma,’ which seemed about right. The man is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a cipher, he says, and, rightfully resists the notion that all his greatest of life’s wisdom can be quickly compiled in a single interview. “My life is a book, not a page,” he says matter of factly. So we would reconvene later at some point for a game of chess.
Oh, I almost forgot, Romeo is a master chess player, which explains a little how his mind works. He doesn’t think like most, so what may seem like a non-conformist lifestyle is really an ingenius strategy in the game that is life. “Do you know what en pissant is?” he questions me. (No clue.) “Knighting?” Yes. But we have yet to have that match.
Romeo isn’t even his coolest name. He goes by something cooler: Party Barber. More know him by this moniker, which from what I can tell, he gets from cutting hair and putting on the party at the Last Drop pub. At home, is a barber pole and chair setup, and at the bar he helps set things up and get the party going, so, boom, Party Barber was born. Believe it why not, there’s a pretty catchy song about him in an 11:01-minute-long YouTube freestyle by the band members of Mendil Beach Markets:
You are smart, but Frank is smarter
Party Barber, Party Party Barber…
It goes on …
HOCKEY HALL OF FAMER
And believe it why not, that’s not the only video on YouTube of him. He was also the goaltender for the Richmond Sockeye, who won the Centennial Cup in 1987, and the only Revelstokian in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Later, he played in Asiago, Italy. But old-school goaltending equipment basically destroyed his knees, and now, he often straps on knee pads for comfort. Though his knees may be shot, Romeo, the man, the Barber, the legend, is at heart a keeper of the peace, the nouveau public servant, and a proud Revelstokian.