Justin Strong

Justin Strong (Photo: Brian Cook)

Justin Strong (Photo: Brian Cook)

Justin Strong knows that creativity coupled with a willingness to change keeps the entrepreneurial spirit alive. As a business owner, he has headed many Pittsburgh music clubs and lounges. Now, he is the fourth-generation owner of Strong Fabric Care, LLC, in Homewood. Each business has allowed him to grow professionally and personally, helping him connect with the Greater Pittsburgh community.

A Pittsburgh native, Strong graduated from Allderdice High School in 1996 and studied at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, he was known for hosting parties and get-togethers at his tiny apartment in Oakland. As a result, he was inspired to begin his business career in 1997 by developing 7th Movement Development, LLC, an economic development firm for creatives in Pittsburgh. Later, he took a leap of faith and opened the Shadow Lounge, a performance venue
and lounge in East Liberty. Shadow hosted many locals who would go on to enjoy broader celebrity, including rappers Mac Miller, Kellee Maize, and Real Deal. Later, AVA Bar and Lounge was opened right next to Shadow, and the two spaces worked toward making East Liberty an ideal location for nightlife.

Both businesses enjoyed success before closing in 2013. Strong’s legacy in the area had already been established, and he continued to take on new ventures. In 2014, he moved his sights to Homewood, taking over Strong Dry Cleaning, a business his family started in 1930 in North Carolina. The Strong brand moved to Pittsburgh in 1945, and has remained one of the few Black-owned dry cleaning companies in Southwestern Pennsylvania. With locations in Homewood, Downtown, and Oakland, he has been able to continue the legacy of the cleaners by taking on both commercial and residential clients. The Homewood storefront is owned by Strong, allowing for the cleaners to retain some autonomy and serving as a successful example of Black business in the community.

Strong has always been an advocate for the power of community change through economic development. His businesses throughout Pittsburgh have assisted in bringing positive growth to many communities, including Homewood. He continues to take an innovative approach to entrepreneurship, working now as general manager of Spirit Lodge and Hall in Lawrenceville, which was recently named one of the top bars in the country by Esquire magazine. Strong brings his talents to every venture he is a part of, and that includes his work in the Homewood community.