Live Storytelling: An Employer's Evolution | Sean Barnes

Sean Barnes is the owner of Ladles Soup, a family-owned restaurant specializing in soup, sandwiches and salads. Sean moved here recently from Charleston and he was looking for a way to get more involved in the community, when he met Emily. The story he shares is about the relationships that he formed with Emily as an employer and how it woke him up to a whole new idea of what it can mean to be a boss.

He told his story at our BYOB(reakfast), a storytelling event held at Starfire monthly.

TRANSCRIPT: In March, I moved up here to Cincinnati with my husband from Charleston, South Carolina. We started this franchise company in Charleston, South Caroline in 2007 and we have 13 nationally. We moved to Ohio because one of our friends decided they didn’t want to own the store anymore. So we took over the market, moved our entire life up here, bought a home even. Fell in love with the city it’s great. Met Emily with Chris, he came in and asked for job opportunities. My first initial response or my first thought because Emily has cerebral palsy so she’s actually in a wheelchair with a controller. So my first thought was, well I mean I would love to but there’s no job here for you in this industry because you have to stand up all day, and you have to be able to reach certain things. And I’m just thinking like it’s not going to be, I’m not going to be able to give her something because she does not have the ability to perform the task. So then Chris said she really enjoyed social media. I was like ok well maybe there would be something there. So I thought about it and we hadn’t had anybody overseeing our social media except for my step-dad because its family owned and operated.  

So he runs the Facebook and Instagram and everything. So we really wanted to entangle ourselves into the Cincinnati community since we have no roots here. So I thought what better way then to be involved in a community organization such as Starfire. So I asked him if we could let Emily take over. And then we figured out that we would do this program called Emily’s choice. Which really helped us out too, she could come in, she would try the food, she would try like the half sandwich and something off the menu and she would create this combination. And then she would take it home and try it and I would request that she would send me a rough draft of her feedback of the food by Friday. At first it was like three sentences of the food and then four of like personal experiences throughout the week.  

So we had to kind of cater it as it evolved, and we had to be like you can’t say that this is horrible, you know, because you’re working for the community, so you have to like I mean as much as you want to say it you have to say it’s delicious or not my personal favorite but..., so we started catering that and I told her we could throw in a segment too where she could talk about her week. And when Emily comes in on Mondays she comes in at 1:00pm because that’s her lower her down time and she comes in. The struggles at the beginning were like talking to her because she doesn’t communicate back unless like she will but normally she’s in her tunnel vision of Instagram followers, and she’ll follow all these people and she’ll look at them and I’m trying to have a conversation with her and Its kind of difficult sometimes to hold her attention. I found myself like halfway through it feeling like a butt one day because I was being more stern like hey listen we have to get this done. And I just felt bad because I was like oh wow I hope I didn’t talk to her badly and make her feel bad. 

Then the coolest thing was when we went to see A Star is Born with Lady Gaga, because that’s what she wanted to go see, and that same showing there were four other people with who were disabled, and they came in and they were mostly in wheelchairs. So the people there trying to fit five people with wheelchairs, automated wheelchairs in there at one time. And this one girl, was sitting next to Emily and this is when I saw her personality shine through. Because normally her personality is through text and its you know like she hasn’t really opened up to me but she was sitting there and this one girl halfway through the movie, right next to her, starts snoring. And I just see her look at the girl, turn her head to the right and turn back and like roll her eyes, and I was like *laughter* I was like, because she’s really getting into the movie. So I don’t know it was really funny. I really love working with her she’s a fantastic human. The cool thing is I told Emily at the start she would get paid for her service per store, so each store that we open her pay would increase and it will add an extra percentage. It’s pretty cool, we are going to continue, we love Emily.  


BYOB(reakfast) live storytelling event is supported by our friends at Contemporary Cabinetry East