Conversations, laughter, biscuits and homemade jam melt together at Leenies Southern Café. Established in January 2006, Mel Flores and Eileen Gilmore’s restaurant in Longmont, CO has become a destination for those looking for a classic Southern breakfast and lunch restaurant in Longmont.
The dining area is blanketed in simple white tablecloths and is surrounded by shelves loaded with Leenies jams and dishes while local artisan artwork decorates the walls. The atmosphere is relaxed and the menu features great Southern comfort foods items like fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and grits. Leenies boasts dishes made of preservative-free, fresh food products. The other ingredients of success behind this southern café — Mel and Eileen’s long hours of planning, preparation, and their creative vision – topped off with a little faith.
Mel and Eileen, sought the assistance of the Boulder Small Business Development Center well before Leenies’ start-up to help with corporate set up, assessing their financing options, finding legal resources and consulting help around their business plan. They ended up bootstrapping the venture, raising start up capital through family and found a space that was already set up as a restaurant and had a supportive landlord. They then went to work, putting in sweat equity to remodel the space themselves. Today they are keeping up with growing demand with a full-time staff of four, plus three part-time workers for the busy weekends. They are finding themselves just where they projected they would be in phase II of their business plan.
Soon, customers will be able to eat and sip in the quiet outdoors on a patio they are working to build. They are also planning a home-delivery service to Longmont and the surrounding area residents. Leenies’ jams, seasonings, and syrups will soon be available for sale in their restaurant and will be branded as Sweet South Food Products™. Patrons will be able to bring home the Creole and blackening seasonings, and triple berry, peach and strawberry jams that keep customers coming back for more.
Another differentiator – Mel and Eileen are committed to engaging with their customers and the community. ”We treasure the opportunity we have had to make hundreds of local friends” says Eileen and Mel. “We are a friendly neighborhood restaurant that at the same time offers delicious food. People know we are invested in the community and we want them to know that our taxes, community engagement and energy is committed to Longmont.”
As Mel says this, Eileen catches up with a family of regulars whose toddler whisks away toys Leenies keeps in the corner for patron families. The toddler shouts, “thank you” to Mel and Elieen for the delicious biscuit and jam waiting on his plate.