Today we’d like to introduce you to Ricardo Leveron.
Hi Ricardo, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Thank you for your interest in my story. It is a pleasure to share it with VoyageBaltimore Magazine. Let’s start from the very beginning… I was born and raised in Honduras, the 4th child of 5. Growing up, my family was very business-oriented and owned different businesses. One of the main ones was the sale of natural and organic medicine for home remedies, for example; we used to mix different herbs for medicinal teas, creams, syrups, etc. We later included pharmaceutical processed medicine to have a complete pharmacy business, which later expanded and allowed them to travel to many different countries, like Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc. So, I have always been inclined toward business management and customer service because I learned them from my family. My dream as a teenager was to be a pediatrician.
Still, I earned a scholarship to the Technological University of Honduras for Business Management. I started my early higher education there but couldn’t finish my first degree since the first year of college I was awarded my U.S. Permanent Residency through my mom. I moved with the hopes of starting my healthcare career here. I quickly realized that it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had to redo my high school education and take a crazy amount of tests to be accepted into a community college, so I did get my GED. I started the process of being accepted into college. Still, at that time, in 2015, I took my first real estate opportunity in a Leasing Office in a sales and administration role for a manufactured housing company that I thought to be attractive. After enjoying helping families with their housing needs, I decided to jump into my Real Estate Agent adventure and left the Leasing Office job. My first year as a realtor was challenging; I was working as a waiter in a local Diner, and I didn’t sell many houses, and I was one of many new realtors trying to make it. But as I started studying other successful agents, many classes at Keller Williams and lots of YouTube videos later. I learned that being genuine and unique will make strong connections with other people who will trust you with one of the biggest investments of their lives and refer you to more businesses because of the great experience I knew I could provide. By this time, I had already gained the trust and love of my Spanish-speaking community in Chattanooga and surrounding areas by being one of the first (if not the first) openly gay Hispanic realtors in the area.
Additionally, in 2019 and while buying my first house, I took a position as a General Manager at one of my best friends’ restaurants called Mayan Kitchen and co-owned by his brother. The latter is also the owner of the Diner I worked for back in 2015 until 2017. I planned Mayan Kitchen to be a “temporary assignment” so I could report the “extra income” and finally own my first home. Still, in the process, I got caught by the scary world’s pandemic of COVID-19 and ended up working longer than planned because real estate didn’t feel too stable in 2020. Currently, I am juggling both businesses and have managed to take both to a great place in each of their industries. Mayan Kitchen is becoming a destination and a staple for the Chattanooga area for locals and visitors. My real estate career has managed to sell multi-millions in volume, which is only possible because of the love and overwhelming trust I get from my lovely clients.
I don’t consider myself to be successful yet, but I have changed many lives for my clients and changed my life and mindset through my real estate career as well as m my family’s life in many different ways through my hard work. So, I could say that I am confidently heading toward what means success for me if God allows it.
It has been challenging! It seems like I have had to start over more than a few times, but I certainly feel I am on the right path. Getting my real estate license was hard, COVID19 was hard, and losing a few family members was hard, but leaving my siblings in a different country was, by far, the most challenging time of my life. Speaking English used to be one of my biggest struggles, which also turns out to be my biggest accomplishment today. When I first moved to the United States, I didn’t know much but working as a waiter for my first few years helped me learn to communicate, and I can proudly say I am now very fluent.
As a Realtor with Keller Williams, I specialize in selling or leasing real properties and negotiating contracts. Keller Williams has amazing training in place for new agents. I have met inspiring people there, such as our Team Leader and CEO Nathan Brown, the witty Jake Kellerhals, the successful marketing genius Mark Hite, and my real estate mentor Marie King to mention some of them. I am known for being the bilingual realtor in the market center, and my clients know how giving I am as a person and the kind of negotiator I am for them. I am proud to have been one of the first agents in Chattanooga that started working with out-of-state lenders to bring Loan products to foreign buyers that do not enjoy the privilege of having a social security number due to immigration-related issues, which is common among the Hispanic community.
As the General Manager at Mayan Kitchen, I enjoy being a leader and earning my employees’ respect, which has become my new family. I have gained friendships here and the admiration of some of them not by being their boss but by teaching them the right way of doing things with care and kindness. Mayan Kitchen is a Latin Inspired Restaurant where you will find recipes and alcoholic beverages from many Latin countries. This beautiful place has allowed me to cater to different communities, including the LGBT+ community, which is often neglected in activities here in Chattanooga and is so stigmatized for having a different lifestyle or preferences. I have partnered on a few occasions with RuPaul Drag Race contestants and gay icons to our community for live shows at the venue, providing a safe and fun place to enjoy a good cocktail and a drag show. Currently working with other LGBT+ owners and businesses to grow the show’s popularity and make it more accessible to our residents and have also participated in different non-profit events to benefit the Kidney Foundation.
I do remember how my family worked very hard to have wealth and how easy they lost it after my grandfather passed, so administrating money and having a plan for when you’re no longer alive is now a very important thing for me.I do have very happy memories of going out with the entire family (grand parents, aunts, uncle, siblings and lots of cousins) on road trips and holiday gatherings that brings joy to have those memories and to have lived those moments with them. I will forever cherish that.
– Carson Andrew – Jossy Garcia – Geo Carranza