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Spirit of giving sets this Lakewood Ranch family restaurant apart

For the restaurateurs behind Truman’s Tap & Grill, serving great food in a relaxed ambiance starts with family.

For Carrie Leitzman, co-proprietor, Truman’s is an extension of her home, a bridge to her community, and an expression of family values passed down across the generations.
For Carrie Leitzman, co-proprietor, Truman’s is an extension of her home, a bridge to her community, and an expression of family values passed down across the generations.
Photo by Lori Sax
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Carrie and Jason Leitzman are the proud proprietors of Truman’s Tap & Grill in Lakewood Ranch. Their three adult children are also co-owners. 

Truman’s is considered a sports bar — but that’s like saying the Missouri Tigers is a college football team. Both statements are true but fall short of the whole truth. 

For the Leitzmans, Truman’s is an extension of their home, a bridge to their community, and an expression of family values passed down across the generations. Those values mean a lot to their whole family. Carrie’s father was a small-town newspaper publisher; her grandfather was Red Wade, the All-American collegiate football player and legendary football coach at Northeastern Missouri Teacher’s College (now renamed Truman State University). Both stressed the importance of teamwork and giving. 

Carrie was happy to share how much these values mean to her — and how she puts them into action at Truman’s every day. 

Your capsule description of Truman’s is …

It’s a place where you can go and always feel welcome.

Did you name the pub Truman’s as a nod to President Harry Truman?

No. The original owners named it after “Truman the Tiger,” the University of Missouri football team’s mascot. When our family bought the pub, we knew we had to keep the name. Truman State University is such an important part of our family’s history.

Got it. And I love the fact that you named your restaurant after a tiger! They’re such an iconic symbol of power — and not just on the football field. What power would your tiger symbolize?

I’d say Truman stands for the power of teamwork, community and family. Those shared values hold us all together. They’re what our tiger means to us.

Truman’s bar manager Maggie Levanduski welcomes guests with a warm smile. The agave margarita at Truman’s refreshes mind, body and spirit.
Photo by Lori Sax
I’d like to explore your shared values. Let’s start with teamwork. What can you tell us about your staff?

They’re a great team of people who work together to give guests an enjoyable experience. We’re in a service industry after all. Their job is literally making other people happy. We don’t take their devotion for granted — and we support their family life outside of Truman’s. For example, our staff used to work through the weekends. They’re all on the young side. And in the summer, that cut into their family time because their kids were out of school. Once we realized that, we closed Truman’s on Sundays in the summer. 

Giving back to the community has always been Truman’s style. Why?

It’s the way Gary and I were raised. In my own family, my father ran the local newspaper. It was a very demanding responsibility, but it never stopped him from giving back. He was a volunteer firefighter for 53 years and rode a Harley for the annual Salvation Army Toy Drive. He was also a Rotary member to the core and deeply committed to their good works. My dad drilled a philosophy of giving into our heads. I don’t know any other way to be.

So community and family aren’t really separate for you.

No, they’re not. I don’t know how they could be.

Please tell us about the two “Word Walls” at Truman’s. You’ve got two walls packed with inspirational words. What ties them all together?

They’re the words that our family lives by. One day, we all got together and wrote down a list of what’s important to us. It goes back to our shared values — and shared history. 

Don’t leave Truman’s without trying ….

The bourbon chicken stir-fry is absolutely my personal favorite. You can have it grilled; you can have it fried; and if you’re feeling a little bit self-indulgent, we can serve it with shrimp.

Truman’s Tap & Grill serves a bourbon chicken stir-fry with with sauteed carrots, zucchini and peppers.
Photo by Lori Sax
My favorite type of customer is ….

… everyone who walks in the door!

When I’m not working I’m …

… probably needlepointing and spending time with my family. Either that, or I’m on the phone catching up with one of my friends. The restaurant business is very busy, but I make time. I value those connections.

What do you want people to know about Truman’s?

We value our guests. Truman’s is not a chain; we’re a family business. Everything we do is highly personal. And every person we’re privileged to serve is important to us.


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