Leeway Franks to close restaurant, expand Leeway Butcher

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Lee and K Meisel, owners of Leeway Franks and Leeway Butcher, announced Wednesday plans to close the restaurant but expand the butcher shop.

“Leeway Butcher has outgrown its space, and we are excited to take that side of the business into even bigger markets where our products can be enjoyed in people’s homes across the country,” they wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday morning.

“To continue to grow Leeway, we need to convert the restaurant space into something more than we ever imagined it could be when we opened all those years ago.”

Leeway Franks opened at 935 Iowa St. in 2015. The couple opened Leeway Butcher next door in 2018. The business and Lee Meisel, Lakota, have earned numerous awards and recognitions, including Lee being named as one of the top 50 Native Business Entrepreneurs by Native Business Magazine in 2019.

September will be Leeway Franks’ last month of daily operations as a restaurant, according to the post. But they’ll be expanding food options at the butcher shop to offer hot and cold sandwiches, soups and prepared food to go.

“Over the following months, the restaurant space will be repurposed into a production facility for butchering, sausage making, and charcuterie,” according to the post.

They’re also going to launch butchering and cooking classes as well as workshops on food sovereignty and Indigenous foods, according to the post.

“We are going to be the change we want to see in this world,” they wrote.

They wrote that the decision has not come lightly, but they feel fortunate to end the Leeway Franks chapter “with our heads held high.”

“By all accounts Leeway has been a tremendous success. While we’ve had our share of awards over the years, and as much as we appreciate the recognition, we prefer to measure our achievements in other ways,” they wrote. “We have provided necessary food worker jobs over the years with many of our team members having had no prior restaurant experience. By adapting our business model, we were able to remain open responsibly throughout the pandemic. And I (Lee) have had the opportunity to represent my tribe and the Native American community in an industry dominated by corporations, shareholders, and bottom lines. For this, I am immensely proud.”

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