Living the “American Dream” in Middletown, Indiana

Reilly Wilber
October 14, 2022

At fifteen years old, Levi Castellanos followed his siblings to the U.S. to find work in hopes of helping their family out of poverty back in Oaxaca, Mexico. What was originally a two-to-three-year plan for Levi, turned into a life made in small town Indiana.

Working in Mexican restaurants is nothing new to Castellanos. He started cleaning tables and delivering chips to customers when he came to the U.S. at fifteen. From there, he worked his way up to waiting tables and learning the ins and outs of running a restaurant. Once his older brother, Amando, opened a restaurant, Levi knew he wanted to open a restaurant of his own someday, too.

In the years ahead, Levi worked in a few different industries because the restaurant field wasn’t serving him well, causing him to lose sight of his dream. His vision was sparked again, though, after driving past empty buildings every day and seeing the potential for his future business. One particular building in Middletown caught his eye. Levi worked for a while to acquire it, wanting to rent the building at first out of caution; however, the owner wanted to sell. Some time had passed, when one day a friend of Levi’s asked him if he had found a loan to buy the building. It was after this push that Levi met with his banker and was subsequently introduced to Marcy Orr at Bankable. 

Levi had never heard of Bankable before his introduction to Marcy. He says working with Marcy was a "good experience."

“She’s really, really helped me a lot; I’m happy… I feel comfortable.”

After receiving funding from Bankable in late September of 2021, Levi was able to purchase his building, and that December, Los Costeños was opened for business. The name Los Costeños is an homage to Levi's upbringing near the Pacific coast in Mexico. As everything fell into place for Levi's entrepreneurial dream, just a month after opening the business, he and his wife, Alex, welcomed their firstborn daughter, Luisa. 

The process of opening a new restaurant has had its challenges. Levi has learned a lot; particularly, that finding employees is the hardest part. Right now, he has three employees — his brother, Serijo, and two other relatives.

“It’s a little stressful for me because I can’t find any[one to] work,”

Levi says of his experience. He’s okay with working for himself, though.

“I don’t like to be like, ‘oh, I’m the boss’ or ‘I’m the owner.’ I like to do the job.”

At times, he has been tempted to give up and sell the restaurant, but the steadfast support and encouragement from his wife motivates him to keep pursuing his dream. He continues to work hard, staying involved in every aspect of the business. 

More recent funding from Bankable has allowed Levi to pave his parking lot and purchase custom, authentic Mexican furniture. While the furniture hasn’t quite arrived, it is sure to change the building’s atmosphere, as the artwork will display some of his favorite spots in his hometown of Mártires de Tacubaya, Oaxaca. 

Eventually, Levi would like to open more restaurants in larger areas, but for now, he is content in Middletown. Owning a restaurant in a small town brings in a lot of familiar faces. Levi has several regulars who come in and are always surprised that he remembers their exact orders. Some of Los Costeños’ regular customers know Levi from his former waitering days in other nearby restaurants. Their loyalty and support for Levi’s success is a testament to the impact he brings to his community through Mexican cuisine and a bright, welcoming environment. 

Levi’s family may be spread out across the U.S. and Mexico, but he has surely found his purpose in serving others with food and a friendly face in Middletown, Indiana.