Modern Changemaker: Ajay Brewer brings community together with coffee

Ajay Brewer, Brewer's Cafe (Source: NBC12)
Ajay Brewer, Brewer's Cafe (Source: NBC12)
Published: Feb. 13, 2018 at 6:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2018 at 12:15 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Throughout February, we are introducing you to modern changemakers. These are local people who are making a difference in one way or another.

Ajay Brewer is one of those people. He owns Brewer's Cafe in Manchester, and for him, it is more than about coffee. It's about community as well.

"My dream was to wake up one day, walk out of my house, sit on my porch, and watch my coffee shop," said Brewer.

Today, he not only watches Brewer's Cafe at the corner of Bainbridge and 12th Streets - he owns it and runs every aspect of it, ever since this dream came to life in 2015. It was definitely a change of pace for this former stockbroker.

"It was coincidence that I quit my job the same year, and I just thought I had a perfect name for it, so why not just try it? Just start it," said Brewer.

He thought it was best to start it right in his own community, just a few blocks away from where he grew up.

"I wanted to create something where I lived," said Brewer. "I look at life. I feel like the people in the Civil Rights Movement looked at life. It's all about changing. It's all about making the space better. It's all about bringing communities together."

That's why this cafe is proving to be more than just what's offered on the menu. It is truly a gathering space for the community.

"We've had opportunities to talk to some of the most influential people in Richmond, in the world," said Brewer. "You know, we've had First Friday events where we shut the block down and have musicians and artists play. There's a coat rack outside now. There may be close to 600 coats that we've actually taken from folks and passed them out to people in need."

Click here for a list of Black History Month events in your area

Brewer is being the change he wants to see in his community, and it's important to him to set this example for his three-year-old son, Parker.

"I don't want him to feel like he has to move to Paris or move to Georgetown to have a quality life. I want him to believe that what his father did is something that he can do, too," said Brewer.

Brewer dreamed and made it come true. That's the message he wants Parker and others to take away from this neighborhood cafe - in addition to the coffee, tea, and pastries.

"I want folks to start dreaming again," said Brewer. "The beauty in Brewer's Cafe is that it seems on the outside that it's this coffee shop that sells drinks and pastries and has events, but as you dig deeper into it, it's just a dream of a kid who did not want to live a certain lifestyle. Stockbroker, nice suits, meetings and all that stuff. I just genuinely wanted to pursue my own dreams."

Another dream of Brewer's is to expand the cafe and begin roasting their own coffee to sell all over the world.

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