Inspired by his younger brother, Branford man establishes successful barbershop lounge

New Haven

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Will Gambardella owns Raphael’s Barber Lounge in Branford. His story is unlike any other.

If you look around his shop, it is filled with elephants, which were his younger brother Raphael’s favorite animal. His brother was his hero, his light and his heart.

Raphael was in the navy for eight years.

“He was in Afghanistan, Pakistan, all over the place,” Gambardella said. “He did a lot of rescue missions, it kind of affected him, so he had a little bit of issues with it, and he ended up taking his life.”

Raphael was just 25 years old when he died.

“It feels like yesterday. I don’t think you ever stop thinking about him.”

Will himself turned his life around in 2015. He had just gotten out of prison when he said it all clicked.

“I don’t think I’d be able to be here and do the things that I do if I didn’t have the history and the past that I have,” Gambardella said.

He is celebrating seven years of success this holiday season.

His barbers, his work and his family are the most important pieces of the puzzle that make up his life. But at the table this holiday, seven years later, there will always be one piece that is missing.

“We’re missing one, you know, it’s always something that’s on our mind,” Gambardella said.

If you’re fighting with anyone or have a grudge against a family member, Will said to think twice.

“I want you to look to your right, to your left, hug your family, hug your mother, hug your father and embrace that day because you never know,” Gambardella said. “Tomorrow’s definitely not promised.”

Will told News 8 he is hoping to expand his business sooner than later. He said his clientele has stuck by him and been loyal since he began doing what he loves.

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