Liefie Li Vine,
Winnsboro, Texas

http://www.liefie.us 

Liefie Li Vine originally launched in March 2010 as a craft vendor mall in historic downtown Winnsboro, Texas. Within a year, owners Jackie and Phillip Strydom were convinced the addition of South African foods, ambience and vibrancy would contribute another dimension to the quaint, east Texas town’s legacy of unique shopping, dining and cultural events. After failing to acquire the necessary funds for expansion through conventional means, a believing angel investor provided interest-free financing to help the South African immigrants realize their dream.

Designing their own restaurant was a struggle, drawing sweat, tears, and a little blood at times. Phillip, a master residential craftsman, built the restaurant with Jackie’s help, but later discovered that building a restaurant was quite different from building a home. After construction the kitchen was found to be too small, so appliances had to be repositioned and other changes implemented for efficient process flow.

In May 2011 the Strydoms’ restaurant dream became reality including a chef’s kitchen and enclosed patio for outdoor dining and live entertainment. The initial plan was to serve South African style sandwiches and award-winning Texas wines. Early customer support was so overwhelming that Jackie and Phillip launched an additional expansion later the same year.

The mall concept gave way to expanded indoor dining amid unusual gift items and African artifacts. The Strydoms further invested in an electric smoker oven for the patio. Now, most evenings the enticing aroma of juicy, smoked meats lures hungry shoppers from downtown sidewalks to “Liefie’s patio.”

Today, Liefie Li Vine is known throughout much of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. From its meager beginnings as a craft mall turned sandwich shop, the restaurant now offers flat-iron steaks, seafood, soups, sandwiches, exotic salads, and, of course, outstanding Texas wines. On Friday and Saturday nights accomplished singers and songwriters entertain diners on the patio with varieties of musical talent.

In February 2014, Leifie’s, which means “Sweetheart” in Afrikaan, won Best Restaurant designation in the annual “Best of Upper East Texas” contest, sponsored by County Line Magazine. Phillip Strydom was named Runner-up in the Best Chef category, second to a 3-year Hall of Fame Best Restaurant chef.

For the Strydoms’ it has been a joy to grow their family business. Father and daughter work in the kitchen while mother and son serve customers in the restaurant and store. According to Jackie, that growth would likely never have happened without the assistance of Northeast Texas SBDC Business Advisor, Beverly Austin. She developed the business plan, produced drawings for the outdoor patio, conducted extensive research on Texas wineries, and gave the Strydom family hope that their dream could really happen. Jackie says, “Beverly basically made the business a reality for us, and we are ever so grateful to SBDC for employing quality people like (her).”