Western Brooklyn

Salon To Close After Hosting Memorial This Saturday For Borough Park Woman

Franchezka Unisex Salon
A sign was posted by Helen Figueroa at Franchezka Unisex Salon. (Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop)

The salon owned by a Borough Park woman who died in a well-publicized apartment building explosion in Borough Park last year will close after a memorial service for the deceased owner.

Owner Francisca Figueroa died on October 2, 2015 when fire engulfed her apartment building on 13th Avenue, near 42nd Street.

Her business, Franchezka Unisex Salon (500 5th Avenue near 12th Street), which has been part of the neighborhood fabric for over 20 years, plans to close permanently after this weekend. Before the gates shut for good, the community is invited this Saturday, April 30 to a memorial service for the deceased owner.

After Figueroa’s death, there was an outpouring of grief from members of the community. A large memorial of flowers, candles, and balloons quickly grew in front of the salon.

Franchezka Unisex Salon
Passersby stop to leave notes at Franchezka Unisex Salon on October 7, 2015. (Photo by Donny Levit / Park Slope Stoop)

26-year-old Helen Figueroa, the daughter of the deceased owner, re-opened the salon on December 28, 2015. “I’m going to remodel. I’m getting a new sign soon for outside,” she said when we visited with her at the time. “But mom liked red, black, and white. I want to use those colors. Here’s a photo of my mom and I. See how she has red highlights in her hair? I got those, too.”

Francisca Figueroa
Francisca Figueroa, former owner of Franchezka Unisex Salon, who died in a Borough Park apartment gas explosion in October 2015. (Photo via Facebook)

However, after four months, Helen has decided to close the salon. “Everyone is always asking me about my mother and what really happened [in the apartment explosion]. It’s too much for me. I can’t keep doing this,” she tells us.

Before she shutters the place, Helen plans to hold a memorial service for her mother.

The salon will be open for neighbors to drop by between 2pm-10pm on Saturday, April 30. “The priest will come at 7pm for a service,” says Helen.

Helen posted a hand-written sign outside the salon which reads:

“…you can say goodbye for the last time to Franchezka Unisex and my mother I will have my mom their [sic]  so that friends and family that din’t [sic]  get a chance to say goodbye to my mother because of miss communications [sic]  and chaos caused by my family and say their prayers for the last time for my mother…”

Helen hopes to put an end to what she believes to be inaccurate stories about what happened during the incident which resulted in her mother’s death.

In December the New York Times wrote:

“Investigators have determined that Francisca Figueroa, a tenant in the three-story building, set the fire, according to the city official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak publicly about the case.”

“Ms. Figueroa, the owner of a beauty salon and a licensed cosmetologist, was in the process of being evicted from her second-story apartment at the time of the explosion. Relatives have said she had not been paying the rent.”

But Helen expresses a general lack of trust in the reporting of the incident by the press.

“They don’t know the full story. There have been a lot of things written about my mother that are not true at all. I don’t like it.”

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