Lefty Leigh's is Making Oto Great Again

Heath and Kari Cassens
Lefty Leigh's and Cassens' Catering
Oto, IA
Lefty Leigh's is a restaurant and catering business located in tiny Oto, IA. Our focus is on hearty, comfort foods. Over the past year we have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and support we have received from Oto and the surrounding communities. We believe if you feed them; they will come!
As a husband and wife team, we live and breathe this business. While Heath, a 4th generation caterer was born into the life, Kari just knew she loved to cook, so as their love blossomed, so did their dream.

We were given the opportunity approximately one year ago to purchase the former Catholic Church that had recently closed. We remodeled the building to include a commercial kitchen and officially opened on December 15th of 2017. Among our offsite and onsite caterings, we are also open at our location various days of the week. On Sundays we brunch! Our brunch includes an array of comfort foods. Additionally, we host special events monthly, such as pizza and wing night, date night, and holiday dinners.

Coming into this we knew there was a need for what we do and it shows; we have been booked fairly solid since the beginning of summer, and we already have several dates on the calendar for 2019. While there is some competition in the catering market, there are very few local options within a 40 to 50 mile radius, and none that offer the versatility of food options, or the quality of home cooked food that we are able to provide on a large scale. What makes us special? We, the owners are at EVERY catering making certain each event is a delicious success!

Our success and opportunities for the future speak for themselves. Through building our reputation we have grown from catering 20-30 people events to successfully feeding 300-400. We continuously strive to maintain the flexibility to serve any crowd, big or small.

In addition to our catering business, we are proud to say that our physical location has become a gathering place for the community. We hope with the church closing, though an extremely sad circumstance, Lefty Leigh's has brought a new light and gave this community a new sense of pride. You will find many of the former church parishioners, as well as many others enjoying food, coffee and fellowship. The stories shared over a home cooked meal is more than enough for us to open the doors every morning.

Our Sunday brunch has become a staple for the area, as well. We generally serve 60 to 80 people each Sunday, with some holiday brunches such as Easter and Mother's Day reaching over 200 patrons! We marvel every Sunday that through word of mouth we have folks traveling 40 plus miles to spend their Sunday with us!
Lefty Leigh's has the potential for a bright future and we have grown to the point where we need to invest additional capital in order to expand. As a husband and wife team, we have invested our life savings into this business and though we are turning a profit that has provided us a living wage, we are in need of an infusion of funds in order to take our business to the next level.

First off, we have the physical space at our location to seat 200 people. Our goal with this space is to become a venue for different events serving our community members complete with onsite catering and event planning services. In fact, we currently have 3 weddings booked at our location for the 2019 season!

That being said we want to provide the best possible experience. We need to renovate the former congregation side of the church to accommodate the large parties we plan to host. The event space needs paint, flooring, and updated seating to provide a more modern experience.

Between ourselves, and our network of family and friends, we are do-it-yourself types, that did all of the remodeling to date. Any funds that we will be putting into this next phase of renovations will be for materials and equipment only, we plan to put more sweat equity back into the business.

We are confident through this stage of remodeling, we will be competitive and able to book more events at our location. Not only does that mean success for us and pride for our community, but more importantly allows us to give back. We are currently involved in community projects that have raised money for community efforts supporting our local fire and EMS services, as well as replacing the sidewalks downtown Oto. Small town communities must stick together and we will continue to give back to ours in any way we can.

Lastly, we have grown to a level where we are beyond being able to be a two person team, and we are excited to hire additional staff. With our offsite catering business and our focus for expanding our onsite events in 2019, we will be looking to hire 2 to 3 part time employees. As we grow, one of our primary goals has always been to support the community, and one way is offering gainful employment opportunities for those in our area.

It has been a truly amazing year and we will continue to show our community what we can do to make Oto great again!

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