Leake is the owner of Avery's Bar and Lounge, which opened recently in the District's H Street Corridor.
Why did you want to open a lounge on H Street?
I'm a D.C. native. I was born and raised in Southeast on Capitol Hill. I wanted to be part of the redevelopment of H Street. My great-grandparents had a business on H Street. Now, at 28 years old, I'm one of the youngest owners in the city. I'm very lucky.
What are your impressions of H Street?
It's getting there, but as a business owner, I understand that it still has a long way to go. I love where it's going -- once the trolley system gets in, it will be 10 times better with foot traffic.
How would you describe your bar?
I don't have an angel investor. We're doing everything from the bottom up -- my family and I painted all the walls. The first night that we opened, we only had three people there. But people seem to love the story and are invested in all the progress. It's picking up now. The people of the neighborhood are starting to embrace it. It's not really a bar or club but more of a comfortable social environment.
Any fears about taking this on at such a young age?
I'm just kind of fearless. It might be crazy, but I don't mind starting over if I have to. I'm working 17-hour days, getting help from friends who can pitch in, whether it's with the electricity or plumbing. We're putting everything we've got into this.
Where did you get this entrepreneurial bug?
I've had 24 jobs in my life -- I'm not exaggerating. I've worked since I was 11. My first job was to make sure bikes weren't stolen from the parking lot of a thrift store. In high school, I worked at a toy store, which was the worst around Christmas time. Yeah, things have gotten much better since then.
- Brian Hughes