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Legendary Houston business turns 65

Beautique in Rice Village is considered by many to be the city's oldest, continuously operating hair salon.

HOUSTON — A legendary business that’s been part of thousands of Houstonian’s lives turned 65 this year.

On Oct. 21, the 93-year-old founder of Beautique salon in Rice Village said the business will be celebrating with a big birthday party.

Frank and Virginia Burge sat down with KHOU 11 to share a piece of Houston history as witnessed through their eyes.

For generations, the salon on Times Boulevard in Rice Village has been cutting, dying and styling the hair of Houston.

“High school sweethearts,” Frank Burge said of his marriage to Virginia. “Seventy years. 71 in February.”

Back in 1956, the couple had an idea: the city could use a new salon.

But it wasn’t that simple.

“We didn’t have any money, to speak of,” Frank Burge said. “Didn’t have any ... period.”

They didn’t have much experience, either.

“We both started out as hairdressers together, not knowing what we were doing,” Virginia Burge said.

But regardless, the couple decided to move forward with their dream.

“And we trained and trained and trained,” Virginia Burge said.

The couple set up shop in a spot on Rice Boulevard in the summer of 1956.

“Houston was a very social city at that time, with many old families and they stood behind us and helped us in our growth,” Virginia Burge said.

It didn’t take long before they outgrew their space.

The couple moved the salon to a bigger spot across the street.

The business grew up in a city that is all but foreign to us today.

At the time, the couple’s mid-century female clientele often had weekly, standing appointments at Beautique.

Hairstyles for women were, for the most part, much shorter than what is common today.

The city was different for other reasons, too.

“It was very different,” Virginia Burge said. “We were probably the first salon in Houston to have a minority receptionist. And our dear Houston customers accepted this woman.”

But not at first.

“They gave us a little grief to start with,” Frank Burge said.

Over time, life got a little better, and so did business for the salon.

Beautique expanded to its current home in Rice Village on Times Boulevard in 1982.

It is now a full-service hair and nail salon and day spa.

The business had survived oil booms and busts, and recessions in the past, but nothing compared to last year.

“I never dreamed it would go on,” Frank Burge said. “I thought, ‘oh, we’ll shut down for a couple of weeks and we’ll go on.’ It didn’t happen.

Burge said he paid the salaries of his employees for as long as he could but was ultimately forced to let some of them go.

“I had to let 12 young hairdressers go because I couldn’t sustain all of them,” Burge said. “It was tough.”

Things are getting closer to normal now.

For 65 years, Beautique has survived.

At 93, Frank and Virginia are still here.

You might think they’re workaholics, but Frank assures us they’re not.

He credits a work-life balance that’s kept the couple happily together for 70 years.

“When we went home, the business was left behind,” Frank Burge said.

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