A local business is committed to providing healthy food and stable jobs for the local community.

Syleetos, which is located on Market Street, is owned by Syl Flores, who also operates Ripley's Gourmet Tortillas in Ripley, Ohio.

The motto of Flores' business is "eating with a cause."

"I believe everyone deserves an opportunity without poverty," Flores said. "I'm a sociologist with an emphasis on poverty. My mission is to keep college graduates, especially those with families, in the area and to give people second chances; people who are looking for a purpose."

Flores said he wants to reduce poverty and provide healthy food for the community.

At Syleetos, diners can get an original tortilla or choose from several recipes: tomato basil, wheat, spinach, cayenne, garlic herb and granola.  The tortillas are made fresh each day at the restaurant and cooked when ordered.

Many of his ingredients are locally grown.

"We want to create jobs for local people using locally grown products that are distributed regionally," he said. "We want this to be the kind of business people want in their community."

Syl is president and founder of A Future Without Poverty, a non-profit organization that focuses upon providing jobs and skills to enable people to live above the poverty level.

"We can reduce poverty by partnering with it instead of exploiting it," he said.

Flores said his business model not only provides a stable job and healthy food, but each employee has stock in the company.

"As the company grows, they grow," he said. "My vision is to grow this company far enough that when I am gone, someone can take it further."

Flores has several employees at Syleetos, from varying backgrounds.

Steve Behrel was working at Moyer's Restaurant in Ripley, when he met Flores. He had decided to leave the restaurant and was about to move to Michigan with his wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

"I used to eat at the restaurant in Ripley," he said. "I met Syl and he gave me one of his A Future Without Poverty cards. I did a little research and I loved what he was doing. We sat down and talked one day and I knew this was where I wanted to be."

Behrel said he was happy to begin his job at Syleetos. It gave him an opportunity to stay in the area, where his wife's family is located.

"My life goals are similar to Syl's," he said. "I'm not the assistant general manager here and I love it. We're making healthy food. I get to make good food and try to make it as perfect as I can. I've benefited personally from his business model of giving everyone a chance. It gave me a stable income and I'm doing something I love."

Patsy Spiller, who also works for Syleetos said she was looking for a second chance when she started working at the business.

"My daughter works here," she said. "I met Syl and he told me the story of what he was doing here. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I want his dream to come true for him. The whole place is so amazing. They treat you like family and it's just a great place to be. He's given me a second chance."

Jacob Jones has worked for Syleetos for two weeks. He started there after applying at the restaurant with his job development coach.

"The coach is a person who helps people with disabilities find jobs," Jones said. "We came in together and I interviewed for the job. I like it here a lot. I've met a ton of great people and they've taught me so much here."

Flores said he became familiar with the area in the 1990s, when he would bring graduate students to the area for studies on community renewal. At the time, he was teaching at the University of North Texas, but was offered a job at Northern Kentucky University in 2007.

"I realized the area was 42 miles from NKU," he said. "I told my wife that it was a sign. This was where we were meant to be; it was where God wanted us to be."

Flores believes in empowering his community to be better.

"The community has to have empowerment for it to be self sustaining," he said. "The philosophy of A Future Without Poverty is based on four E's. empowerment-you have to believe in yourself, environment-all of your environment, including your home life, enterprise-job creation and education-both formal education and informal education."

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