How the entrepreneurial spirit of one man was born and grew in DC

How the entrepreneurial spirit of one man was born and grew in DC

The glass window in the front of Andre McCain’s first restaurant reads “Born and Bred” in homage to the area he has known and loved his entire life. But when it comes to black success stories in his neighborhood, McCain is not alone. Washington, DC, according to the US Census Bureau, is a hub of upward mobility for black families.

Drive, ambition and talent [are] everywhere,” said JD LaRock, executive director of The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. “But equitable access to opportunity doesn’t always exist.”

In 2016, McCain founded HalfSmoke, a restaurant dedicated to modernizing DC’s signature half-smoke, a local favorite dating back to the 1930s. Since then, his business has grown to include two more locations.

One of the pillars of his success, McCain said, was attending Woodrow Wilson High School, a vocational school located in one of the area’s most affluent neighborhoods. But he also said that he signed up by accident.

“After a few days of [back and forth,]” McCain said, “they finally let me attend. … That [mistake] from him it was life-changing for me.”

Woodrow Wilson’s staff encouraged him to attend college, and his high school friends later became some of his early restaurant investors.

Through HalfSmoke, McCain is able to give back to the community that built him. He chose the historic Shaw neighborhood for his location, an area he calls the “heartbeat of DC.”

“A lot of black history really came from that neighborhood,” McCain said.

Watch the video to learn more about one of the many Black success stories that started in Washington, D.C.

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