Ricardo Young: I want to be inspiration to next generation of black entrepreneurs
African-American serial entrepreneur and owner of Victory Restaurant and Lounge, Ricardo Young talks about growing up, his education, and love for the hustle. “Anyone who knows me knows that I’m constantly working, thinking of new ideas, looking at the next opportunity,” he told Soltesh Iyere in this one-on-one interview. Excerpt.
Tell us about the man Ricardo Young.
I was born and raised in Northwest Washington, D.C. in the Morton St. Projects. I grew up playing football and school was always important to me. I went on to attend Virginia Tech and UMD on full athletic scholarship. I loved playing football in college, but I was more appreciative to earn the opportunity to have the opportunity to earn three degrees in Business and Finance. My love of football combined with my business background led me to enter the NFL agent business.
I love helping young men lay their blueprint for a career in football, it I ultimately knew I could impact more lives by shifting my focus to my future business endeavors. I got into real estate development and quickly became a serial entrepreneur, opening a number of businesses, including Victory Restaurants.
I have always had a love for the “hustle.” Anyone who knows me knows that I’m constantly working, thinking of new ideas, looking at the next opportunity. I really feel that commitment to excellence is what has gotten me this far.
What has been your number one dream and aspiration growing up?
As a kid I played football and like so many other young men, I always dreamt that I will play football as a career. The game took me to college and during college and during college I realized how much more there was for me outside of football.
I always did well in school, and I realized how far my business could take me beyond being an athlete. That’s when my number one dream became working for myself, I knew I wanted to grow my own businesses and invest in myself.
The pandemic hit everyone hard, how were you able to handle your restaurant industry during the time?
The pandemic did hit everyone hard, and I won’t lie, it certainly did have us our challenges as well. In other to continue to thrive under such unusual circumstances we had to stay very agile and pivot frequently. We were constantly changing and adapting our strategy not only to meet state and city limitations, but also to do what we needed to in other to keep our customers and staffs safe.
I put a team in places that I feel is extremely creative and that helped me a lot. When I have managers and staffs coming to me with new ideas on how we can thrive during a pandemic, it shows just how much my team is invested in making sure we are successful. Working together and being open to trying new things has made a world of difference.
What was your drive behind the massive givings you and your team did during this period?
Honestly, I just feel blessed to be in position to give whenever I can. Growing up I didn’t always have everything and there were a lot of people around me really struggling. I saw how big of a difference something as simple of a warm meal can make in someone’s life. Whether it’s giving meals out in the community or continuing to ensure my staff have jobs to provide for their families. I just feel fortunate to be in a position to contribute.
Moving forward, what are your goals and visions for the new year?
My biggest goal is to continue to grow my business. Every restaurant or business I open provides jobs to so many people and bring something new to the community. My vision is to continue opening restaurants — Victory Restaurant & Lounge is coming soon in D.C. – and you never know which city I’ll head to next. I’m extremely proud to have a black-owned business with a very diverse staff that welcomes such a wide array of customers. I want to continue to provide customers with places they feel safe and welcome. Equally important, I hope I continue to serve as inspiration for the next generation of young, black entrepreneurs. Whatever the goal or vision, I’m always going to give it 110% and never let anyone outwork me and I’m excited to see where that takes me and my team.