• Livy O's

Meet Lennise and Omar Germany - Tampa SBEP Graduates

Spouses Lennise and Omar Germany talked about their vision of opening a restaurant on their first date in 2005. Both are first-generation high school and college graduates. Both were born to be entrepreneurs, and they connected with each other on many important avenues - from faith to family to friendships.

Fast forward nine years later in the spring of 2014, Lennise was not fulfilled at her current job at a local hospital in the Tampa area. “I had begged Omar to let me resign from my job, but at the time both of us knew it was not an option,” said Lennise. She took an alternate route and with the help of her family and her faith, Lennise ultimately applied and got a higher-ranking position with superior benefits and a better salary at the hospital.

But, Lennise’s relief was short-lived. “I walked into my office that following Monday and they had rescinded the offer,” she said. Heartbroken and burned out, but still pushing through to the finish line, Lennise weighed out the options that were in front of her.

“That was the point when I told her to quit,” said Omar. “And, that we would figure it out.” Lennise went back to the drawing board. She began by cooking individual, prepared meals outside of her home and selling them from her car. In her first week, she sold more than 12, week three it grew to more than 30, and by end the end of the first month Lennise sold close to 100 meals. Persistent and determined, Lennise, with the support of Omar, landed her first catering event by delivering lunch to TECO Energy. And, that is how Livy O’s Catering began.

Inspired by their four younger children’s first names: Omar Jr., Olivia, Obree and Olena, they named the company Livy O and developed a mission to innovate, educate and demonstrate the power of hospitality by providing the best quality food and service. “Our goal is to not only cater your event, but we also want to cater your children’s events, additional family members families and your friends,” said Lennise and Omar. “We are built on relationships!”

Serving the Tampa area and surrounding counties, Livy O’s also currently serves breakfast and lunch for grades K12 under the National School Lunch Program. Since 2018, they have delivered more than 700 daily meals to children and young adults in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county. In addition, Livy O’s operates a Culinary Club dedicated to teaching youth and teens, ages 8 to 17 from February to June of each year.

Lennise, who completed the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship’s Tampa Small Business Executive Program (SBEP) in the Spring of 2018, encouraged Omar to participate as well. He completed the program in the Fall of 2019. Both credit Livy O’s continued growth and success in the Tampa community to their time spent completing the SBEP and the because of the resources provided by Director of Central Florida Operations Shane Smith

“For me to come home and try to explain all of the valuable tools and training I gained throughout the SBEP program, I knew in my head that Omar needed to experience the program for himself,” Lennise said. “The relationships I built with my fellow executives and Shane is like nothing else you experience in other training programs. That is why the Jim Moran Institute SBEP stands out.”

The Tampa SBEP program consists of eight sessions, each focusing on a particular aspect of growing and managing a small business. Designed for CEOs, presidents and small business owners, applicants must be actively involved in running a business and be key decision-makers, and their companies must have been established for at least three years and have five or more employees (or volunteers if their company is a nonprofit).

“I knew the general overview of the SBEP since my wife had gone through it, but my experience was quite different,” Omar said. “As far as the class, Shane was amazing especially having to pivot to an online platform in the middle of the program because of COVID-19. He was still able to maintain the quality of the program and the speakers were able to provide us with credible and valuable information.”

Since completing the Tampa SBEP program, both Lennise and Omar say that their time spent in the program has shifted their minds tremendously in relation to being a business owner. “The Jim Moran Institute has totally changed how we do business. Now, it’s not just about how we leverage our relationships, but it is also how we add value to the customers, partners and communities that we serve,” said Lennise.

Applications for the Spring 2021 Tampa Bay SBEP program and Nonprofit Executive Program will close on January 24. “The Germany’s story is a testament to their hard work, dedication and the desire to always improve as an entrepreneur,” said Shane. “This is especially true in today’s challenging environment. I find it very inspiring that we have so many participants that go through the program, recommend to their business partner and/or spouse to go through it as well so that they may learn and experience the very same benefits.”

For more information or to learn more about the Jim Moran Institute’s Central Florida Operations, contact ssmith@jimmoraninstitute.fsu.edu or call 954-399-2849.