Purpose-driven and relationship-focused, Livy O's is dedicated to excellence

After over a decade in the health care industry, Lennise Germany was ready for a challenge. So, in 2014, Germany applied, interviewed, and was selected for a promotion at work. But as fate would have it, the job offer Germany looked forward to was rescinded the same day.

Germany knew her time in health care, at least in the traditional sense, was over and she tendered her resignation immediately.

Unsure what was next, Germany took on various jobs, from retail positions to promoting comedy shows. And while she excelled at both, they just weren't paying the bills. Another change was necessary.

After conversations with her husband (and business partner), Omar, she took the leap and returned to a passion developed as a teen - serving people through food.

A dream, a car, and many miles in between

Germany had an idea, to promote home-cooked meals to her busy friends and family via social media. And that is exactly what she did. Each week, she offered three dinner options plus a dessert. Customers ordered by Thursday at 3 p.m., and deliveries were made on Fridays.

For two years Germany cooked hundreds of meals a week in her home kitchen and drove hundreds of miles every Friday. From Hillsborough to Lakeland and Lakeland to Pinellas, Germany delivered orders out of the back of the family car.

Things changed one day in 2016 while Germany made a regular Friday delivery to employees working at the TECO power plant. As she drove off the site, a call came in from TECO's corporate office asking her to cater a lunch-and-learn event the very next week.

Milestones are reached

That one phone call was just the first of many. Livy O's, named after Germany's children Livy and Omar Jr., was busier than ever. Germany was cooking so many hot meals that paint was chipping off her kitchen walls and her garage was a makeshift warehouse. Another location was necessary, and as Germany made her cross-county deliveries, she was always looking at "For Lease" signs.

Finally, at the end of 2017, she and her husband found a space and signed a three-year lease. And, just as things were growing, the pandemic hit.

Germany asked herself, what will the world look like at the end of 2020? She knew one thing for sure - kids would return to school. And with that foresight, Germany began to offer school food service to select magnet and charter schools. Business boomed.

Today, the Germanys are celebrating 10 years of Livy O's, and the business now offers a school lunch program, provides meals to substance abuse programs and homeless shelters, and caters events far and wide. In fact, Livy O's was one of the official caterers of the 2021 NFL Super Bowl and currently serves about 2,000 meals a day.

Lennise Germany cooking

When asked what's next, Germany's excitement is palpable. In the foreseeable future, Kulture Kitchen by Livy O's will be the official restaurant of the Tampa Housing Authority's new affordable housing development at 1555 West Main Street. Germany cooks what she loves and looks forward to serving the hearts and bellies of residents in the new community.

Germany also wants to tell the story of comfort food for all cultures and hopes to do that on a global scale in the future. One thing is for sure, Hillsborough will be watching!

Livy O's is certified with Hillsborough County's Minority and Small Business program as a minority-owned, women-owned, and small business enterprise and has received support from resources including the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Hillsborough's Entrepreneur Collaborative Center. To learn more about Hillsborough County workshops, trainings, and resources for entrepreneurs, visit HCFL.gov/ECC.

Image Caption: Lennise and Omar Germany and their children
Posted: 3/29/2024, 1:43:13 PM