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Ricky Solomon / Charles Hughes (couple) 

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Ricky Solomon and Charles Hughes (couple)
Class of 2021 BEQ Pride LGBTQ Leader Under 40
He, Him, 38 and He, Him, 39 respectively

The year 2020 feels like a worldwide wake-up call in so many ways. As a leader, I realize the most important thing I have learned and will take forward is…

The ability to continuously adapt to change. We started Lambda Vodka with no experience or understanding of the spirits market. We found our niche and quickly saturated the LGBTQ+ community with bartending services and our specialty Lambda Vodka cocktails at every event.

The married couple behind Lambda Lounge, Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon, have created both an affirming business and brand. They believe creating safe spaces for LGBTQ people and their guests is important. Being able to create and maintain a brick and mortar space for BIPOC LGBTQ folks in Harlem, during the novel coronavirus pandemic, takes epic leadership. In spite of the crisis, these guys kept their eye on the prize and they are enjoying community support from far and wide.

Husbands Charles Hughes and Ricky Solomon are visionary leaders and urban innovators. The idea for the Lambda Lounge came from a desire to provide bartending and specialty Lambda Vodka cocktails services within their own brick and mortar establishment. After being called out, derided and humiliated by a DJ in a local bar for being gay, they envisioned a safe, dedicated, sacred space. 

Choosing Harlem as the location while targeting the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters was the easy part, but facing the strain of a national economic crisis made adapting to the “new norm” their only hope for survival. Hughes and Solomon look at this experience as taking “crash courses” that are more valuable than any university’s business curriculum by far! These guys give back by sharing their insights and lessons learned with anyone on the startup journey.  

Hughes and Solomon’s Lambda Vodka is their spirits brand created by and for the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters. Their product is sold in more than 20 stores in New York City as well as online in 38 states. The Lambda Lounge is their first brick and mortar location, situated in the historic Harlem area of New York City. These guys are breaking down barriers, creating opportunity and community based on the vision for an affirming urban nightlife space for the LGBTQ+ in Harlem.

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