Young Entrepreneur Pursues His Dream

Sam P.K. Collins | 6/19/2013, noon
Starting a small business is no small feat, nor should it be taken lightly, especially for minority business owners.
Avery Leake, owner of Avery's Bar & Lounge on H Street in Northeast. Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah

Leake leased an old building on H Street using funds from his 401(k) retirement account. The renovation and design of the bar and lounge turned out to be a family affair with Leake’s father and brother helping to paint the interior and his mother and sister reupholstering the bar stools. When Leake reached out for help via social media, friends and colleagues provided various services that included electrical work and interior design, free of charge.

“People I have not seen in 10 years came out to help me,” said Leake. “While some have not been back since, the fact that they helped means they will always have a stake in this place.”

Andrew Mundle, owner of Elite Barbering Service in District Heights, Md., and one of Leake’s first employers, answered the call. He purchased the bar’s first flat screen television.

“Avery was always determined to be successful,” said Mundle, 43. “It’s important that he is able to attract young professionals in the community. This is a positive and much-needed project, especially [along] the H Street corridor,” the Glenarden, Md., resident said.

While the economic redevelopment in the District has been a topic of concern for longtime residents, Leake, a third-generation Washingtonian, has learned to embrace change.

“It’s a big deal to be a Washingtonian owning a business while [the city] is rapidly changing,” Leake said. “Most of my customers [live in the District] but they come from other cities because of the jobs and opportunities here. Everyone wants to be a part of this evolution.”