Updated: Sep 1
Photo Credit: Jsmooth
1. Please walk us through the birth of 4 West Members Lounge.
Troy: I remember a time and moment where (when I was growing up) that I would hear bar/lounge owners speak to their patrons telling them that gay night was on Sunday or maybe a Tuesday, and that the LGBTQ community should come on those specified nights. I remember the feeling of rejection and shame, while actually others felt happy that a day was recognized for them. Now that Brian and I are in a position (fiscal and emotional) to open/start a members lounge for our community EVERYDAY of the week, we are considering Sunday to be a night for straights :)
Brian: Troy always wanted a nice lounge and I immediately saw the space and thought this will be a great house party vibe. I remember going out all the time back in 2008 and loved good house parties. They’re just different. However, we wanted to infuse them both. It was important the space didn’t feel solely like a house party however we were able to give the vibe of both a house meets a lounge... 2 floors, 2 balconies. It’s just perfect and simply does not exist. Will never forget our 1st event in September, we called a major promoter who was a personal friend of mine, Frank Watson, to come by and host an event at our place. At the time it looked nothing like it does today however we realized then the LGBTQ community was where we wanted to cater. Membership came about realizing that we wanted to create a more affordable members house that was a vibe where members can come and all is welcomed. No income restrictions like other houses.
2. It was a pleasure to meet both you and Brian at your space, I must tell you
it was a one of a kind experience in Harlem. How did you both figure out the vibe and layout
of this space and what was the experience like figuring it out ?
Brian: It was a pleasure meeting you as well. Thank you for this platform and being a voice for our community. We have an amazing team in place that help bring our vision to life weekly:
Chavis - Account Executive
Wally - Latin Division
Melissa - General Manager
Julio - Head of Security
Jody - Lead Bartender
Thankfully not much reconstruction was needed regarding the layout. I always thought it was a dope apartment, now lounge for members & guest to connect. Having hookahs and a DJ we’re the must haves from the beginning.
Overall, we wanted 4west to be a safe space where you can be you...all of you and all is welcomed. That warmth, should be felt immediately upon entry. That was important to us.
Troy: I lived in the penthouse over 5 years and in which Brian and I met and he moved in with me. I always had the thought that the penthouse could be converted into a nice lounge space
and never raised the courage to do so. I’m actually quite the expert in real estate development, with over 42 investment units; but actually was a novice and amateur when it came to a space that we dwelled in. We took the leap to convert the space and make it a lounge where PLU (people like us) could enjoy. We love to entertain there. The penthouse has multiple floors with two balconies and making each part of the space a perfect nook for a vibe.
3. As black and LGBTQIA entrepreneurs in our current social climate, what is most important to you both personally and professionally?
Brian: Troy taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur. I was raised to get a job and work a job for the rest of your life. Opening 4West, I value both personally and professionally to be free and it’s ok.
Troy: It is so important that we teach others to take the first step (even though they don’t see the entire staircase.) Jump off the ledge and build your wings on the way down.
Photo Credit: Jsmooth
4. Living in Harlem and creating a space such as this, a work space in the day and a lounge at night
what was the one thing you were concerned about most before officially opening?
Troy: We were concerned most about our neighbors and NOW they all come and join. OMG!
Brian: I agree, the biggest concern was our neighbors but it’s always so refreshing to see our neighbors join the vibe.
5. If someone were to ask you "What do you think is the key to your success of creating a business during the pandemic"
what would you tell them?
Brian: The key was being consistent and “the doing”. Troy and I are not much talkers, we are truly doers. We believed in us and knew we were fulfilling a need.
Troy: THE BEST TIME to CREATE is always NOW! We are not built to adapt.
So many say we are adaptable creatures. We are actually built and meant to CREATE. The first step to success is to start now
6. Tell us what you would want to leave as your Legacy.
Change your belief!
This will change your behavior!
Behavior will change your habits!
Habits will change your actions!
And actions will change your life!
You can find these amazing entrepreneurs on their IG and Website:
entrepreneurs at the following social media handle and on their website