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Avery’s Bar and Lounge rooftop. (Photo courtesy of Avery Leake)

When Avery’s Bar and Lounge opened in 2013, owner Avery Leake could be found at the top of the second-story entrance greeting guests with a smile. Customers would then sit at the bar and order hand-crafted drinks.

Today, Avery’s is known for bringing a full experience to the H Street Corridor that strays from the night club feel.

“It’s more geared to people who don’t want to go to the club, but still want to come out and have a quality time,” Leake told the AFRO Feb. 11.

A DJ sets the music atmosphere in the lounge, while Leake continues to cater to customers with photographs, shout-outs and other perks, especially for special occasions.

“I just love creating, whether we’re handcrafting a cocktail or bringing something that people never really expected to the whole bar and nightlife culture,” he says. “I love what I do.”

As a 30-year-old entrepreneur in the up-and-coming corridor, launching Avery’s wasn’t easy.

Avery, who had made several mistakes in the real estate market and was a novice in the restaurant industry, said a bank loan was hard to come by.

“Banks don’t like giving loans to young entrepreneurs or people in the bar nightlife industry unless you have multiple businesses,” says Leake, who after getting turned down for loans decided to invest his life savings from working nine years for the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Everything with Avery’s is paid for from me and my wife,” he says.

Leake is also one of the only African American businesses owners on the strip.

“It wasn’t until I got here that I realized all the accomplishments that come with being a black owned business. There are only nine Black liquor licenses in the city, period,” he says. “It feels great because a lot of people tell me that they look up to me, they want to start their dreams and do a lot of things. A lot of customers tell me that they’re happy for me and they don’t want me to go anywhere.”

Avery will use the Caribbean carryout he had acquired underneath the nightspot to expand to four levels in Spring. He says he will add a kitchen to the place.

“I didn’t know anything about food. I just had an attitude like we’re going to figure it out and build as we grow,” he says.

Now, Leake has hired a chef and a plan to develop food options is underway.

As the H Street corridor continues to gain on U Street and K Street, Leake plans to peak with it.

“I’m not in this to make a ton of money–I love what I do,” he says. “I get up everyday and I’m active–I don’t give up. I would tell anybody if they want to do this business, before you can make any money, you have to love it.”