RUSSELL A local man has taken his food preservation endeavor a step further with an expanded menu in a new location.

Bobby Lege, owner of Ghost’ly Gourmet, which makes a variety of salsas and pickles, has opened Ghostly Gourmet at 501 Bellefonte St., offering catering and customized meal prep.

“When I do a catering, everything is tailored to the individual client,” Lege said. “I’m not a fan of these ‘pick one of these and two of those.’ I sit down with every client and personalize it to their requests and their budget.”

Lege began working in food service as a teen, taking a job with Ponderosa Steakhouse in Russell in 1979. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army and worked in military intelligence. When he returned home, he worked in management positions with Ponderosa.

“I stayed with them until 1992, when I saw the writing on the wall for their end. So, I joined the Golden Corral team,” he said, noting he worked at the restaurant for 27 years.

“Five years ago, I began pickling and canning as a hobby, and an interest in new and different foods, many with a flare with heat,” he said. Others became interested in his products and wanted to buy them, which led to Ghost’ly Gourmet.

“In 2020 as COVID hit, I had to restructure Ghost’ly Gourmet, and also at the same time retired from Golden Corral,” Lege recalled. “Things did wonderful in the canning and pickling division, so I decided to pursue a catering division, and from the catering division, created a private chef division, and also a meal prep division.”

Lege said he plans to reopen the dairy bar in the spring, with burgers, hot dogs, cheesesticks, fries and onion rings, as well as ice cream and soft serve. He also plans to have picnic tables for customers to sit outside and enjoy the offerings.

Customers currently can purchase meals at the site to take and eat for lunch or dinner The offerings rotate.

“I always have a great chef salad with chicken breast and other meat options,” Lege said. “All the meals are lean, clean and green, with about 300 calories and two or three carbs.”

He said he’s excited to be part of Russell’s revitalization.

“Everyone I have met has been wonderful and kind, and I’m really excited to see where this will lead me,” he said. “I’m glad to be a part of it, and look forward to being an active productive remember in this downtown community.”

As a tribute to local lore, Ghost’ly Gourmet is keeping the Bigfoot statue in front of the building.

“Yes, it’s going to stay,” he said. “It’s kind of like a landmark for downtown Russell, and I’ve heard it took a crane to set in.”

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