One of the South’s hottest restaurants, Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi, didn’t take long to make waves. Since being named a James Beard finalist in 2017 for best new restaurant, the Italian eatery is routinely featured in magazines like Southern Living and Bon Appétit.
“I love creating experiences for people,” says owner Emily Blount.
Perhaps most impressive is that, by her own admission, Blount knew nothing about starting a business when she opened Saint Leo.
“Origin was with me from when I moved to Oxford and got my first home loan,” Blount says. “In hindsight I’ve realized how hard it actually is to get business loans, especially as a woman and especially in the restaurant industry. So, my appreciation has grown much deeper that they were willing to take a chance on me from the very beginning.”
Blount also credits Origin banker Karen Stockton for her dependability. Whether a home loan, the process of opening a small business or understanding cash flow, “Karen helps me frequently.”
“When she came to me, we just had to figure out how to do it,” Stockton says.
Once Saint Leo opened and proved successful, Stockton says it felt good knowing that her instincts were right about Blount.
“I think she felt the same way, that she had made the right decisions,” Stockton says.
Watch a brief video to learn more about their relationship and their roots in Oxford, Mississippi.