Restaurateur shares journey at women’s luncheon

CNJ staff photo: Emily Crowe Laura Leal, owner of the two Leal’s Restaurant locations in Clovis, spoke to members of the Women’s Initiative Network on Mobday at the Clovis Civic Center.

CNJ staff photo: Emily Crowe
Laura Leal, owner of the two Leal’s Restaurant locations in Clovis, spoke to members of the Women’s Initiative Network on Monday at the Clovis Civic Center.

By Emily Crowe
CNJ staff writer
ecrowe@cnjonline.com

A local restaurateur shared her journey to success with a group of women Monday at the quarterly Women’s Initiative Network luncheon.

Laura Leal, who was 23 years old when she expanded her parents’ Muleshoe restaurant to Clovis, said she overcame financial adversity and an initial lack of business to get to where she is today.

Now the owner of two Mexican restaurants, Leal is an advocate for servant leadership and following in her parents’ footsteps by treating her employees like family.

Nearly 50 local women attended Monday’s WIN event. The organization was founded in 2001 by former Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield.

“It is a United Way organization to get women involved in the community and to help women network and get to know each other,” said Elizabeth Stegin, assistant director at United Way. “But also to have a purpose in the community.”

The organization holds quarterly luncheons and two annual fundraising events. Money raised through membership dues, events and donations goes toward education, income and health initiatives coordinated by United Way.

Successful You Career Closet is another WIN program that provides local women with donated professional clothing for job interviews or new careers.

Robyne Beaubien, executive director of Clovis MainStreet, has been a part of WIN since 2003. She said the network has reached a broader group of women in recent years, and she sees new faces at each event she attends.

Jessica Greenwalt, an independent Mary Kay consultant, said the network has helped her meet other like-minded women.

“It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for,” she said. “Networking, with a small business, and getting to know more women when you’re not originally from a small town.”