Barbershops traditionally have striped poles hanging in the front of the store.

Charles Penzone’s latest concept, the Royal Rhino Club Barbershop and Lounge, has definitely broken with tradition. And it starts with the 400-pound metal rhino sculpture hanging over the front door.

It's no understatement to say that his new shop, at 993 N. 4th Street, is far different from the many salons that Penzone has opened since he started his company in 1969.

"I've owned the company for 48 years and put in 25 hair salons, but I've never had more fun than this place," he said. 

The Royal Rhino Club is "not your grandpa's barbershop." 

With a target audience of millennial hipsters, the trendy shop features a billiard table, a full-service bar — with signature bourbon cocktails — created by a team from Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, and a selection of cigars.

Its decor, including leather armchairs, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle hanging from the ceiling and framed photographs of celebrities, is more dude heaven than dusty corner storefront.

And, of course, there are the barbers, who not only cut hair but also offer beard trims and wet shaves.

Although the shop has a decidedly masculine feel, "we expect 25 to 40 percent of the clientele will be female — women who want a really cool cut," he said.

Penzone hopes that a female clientele will also be attracted to a yoga salon planned for a large room in back of the shop; it's the project of his wife, Debra, who is president of the company.

Throughout the store are rhinoceros statues, almost all of them wearing a crown and holding a cigar in their mouths.

The rhino theme? Penzone said he spent about a month coming up with a name that would resonate with a mostly male clientele. If he wasn't completely sure about the "Royal Rhino" name and look, even after trademarking it, a fly-fishing trip to Montana two years ago with his son and grandson sealed the deal.

"We were driving out to the river, and we saw this little town with eight or 10 buildings in the distance, and there's this one building that's sparkling in the sun. It had all these life-size animals made out of metal. We're talking life-size elephants, grizzlies, really big animals. And the first one I see is a rhino the size of a van.

"I told the driver, 'When we go back, we're stopping here.' So running into that shop and seeing that rhino seemed like it was fate."

In honor of the shop's mascot, a portion of proceeds yet to be determined will go to anti-poaching nonprofits and two other causes: LGBT issues and the Italian Village business community.

Penzone is hopeful that the shop will be successful, not only because it is in the "high millennial area" of Italian Village, but also because the trend toward hipster barbering has gained momentum in the past few years. He'll wait to see how things go before  considering duplicating the shop.

"I had been wanting to do this about three years ago, but we had a boatload of things on our plate at the time," Penzone said. "So I'm hoping we're not a little late."

Well, maybe.

Lee Peterson, an executive vice president at Dublin consulting firm WD Partners, said the Royal Rhino Club is indeed a little late to the trend. 

"But not too late.

"It's a good idea, and it's a killer location, but he's got to be cautious about overdoing it with the theme," Peterson said. "What makes a hipster barbershop great is that it's real. The trend is for hipsters to just buy a real barbershop and do it the same — except make it cleaner, make the music better and just do the opposite of what the big companies do. If you start to smell like a big company, with too much theme, well, (customers will) smell that out right away."

Looking around inside the shop, which includes antiques and collectibles that had been in his home and offices, Penzone smiled.

"I'm just really so excited. I'm having a ball. I'm getting a hot shave today. I'm going to be down here way too much."