READING - Reading’s first-ever tattoo artist could potentially open his Haven Street storefront to customers as early as this morning after the Board of Health yesterday licensed the enterprise.
On Monday morning, Lexington resident Jonathan Santos appeared before the Board of Health in a virtual meeting to lay out his plans to open a body art parlor, which he has called Benchmark Tattoo, within a vacant commercial space at 235 Haven St.
The Board of Health, ultimately finding no issue with his proposed floor plan and accompanying documents, ultimately sanctioned the license, pending a pre-opening inspection by Health Inspector Dan Markoff.
Markoff, who has spent the past several weeks studying Reading’s zoning bylaws and body art regulations in order to process the application, subsequently told the elected officials he would try to complete the inspection on Monday afternoon.
“Every document Mr. Santos sent in is full in compliance with all guidelines,” Markoff explained matter-of-factly.
Santos has been in the tattoo and body art business since 2010, when he first began honing his craft while residing in Orlando, Florida. Based upon his new company website, , and social media pages, he has gained a following within the tattoo community through his most recent work with the Boston Tattoo Company, which has shops in Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge.
Reading’s newest small business owner will be occupying a suite within the 9,638 square foot commercial complex at 581 Main St. The brick veneer edifice, which dates back to 1930, houses at least seven storefronts, including three restaurants with frontage on Route 28 and four businesses along Haven Street.
A handful of other personal service establishments, including a barbershop, nail salon, and a dry cleaning business are also situated on the Haven Street side of the single-story building.
According to Benchmark Tattoo’s website, interested clients need to pre-book consultations and appointments through the company for the time being.
Santos’ approval comes a little over a month after tattoo and body piercing shops, shuttered for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were allowed to reopen under Phase 2, Step 2 of the state’s economic reopening plan.
During yesterday’s meeting, the Board of Health, addressed the tattoo parlor license during a larger conversation about the community’s COVID-19 reopening plans. Given that the application was Reading’s first-ever tattoo parlor licensing request, there was some confusion over whether a cleaning and sanitation proposal submitted by Santos was supposed to suffice as a COVID-19 operation plan.
According to Markoff, that filing in fact relates to stringent state regulations around body art businesses in Massachusetts, where public health officials have implemented strict sanitation protocols to prevent the spread of communicable disease from contaminated needles or equipment.
Because the industry is so heavily regulated, the health inspector opined that tattoo artists have long been familiar with the type of public health prevention measures now being required of all businesses across Massachusetts due to the pandemic.
“That’s just their exposure control plan. It’s a general plan that’s required of any body art establishments dealing with potential infectious disease exposure,” explained Markoff. “As to adherence to the COVID-19 specific guidelines, that’s something I would check at inspection.”
In late July, the Board of Health, unsure of whether tattoo parlors were even allowed within the community, assigned Markoff with the task of conferring with the building department and other Town Hall officials about the application.
Ultimately, the health inspector determined the business was allowed within the Haven Street business district under local zoning bylaws, but the Board of Health first needed to license the operation before it opened its doors.
More information about the business can be found at https://www.bestprosintown.com/ma/reading/benchmark-tattoos-/