By Martha Jacob –
Syl Flores of Ripley is the founder and president of ‘A Future Without Poverty, Inc.’ and has spent the better part of his life trying to make a difference in peoples lives.
Flores and his wife Teresa, owner/operator of ‘Ripley’s Gourmet Tortillas’ opened the restaurant after receiving several grants including a Rural Business Enterprise Grant of $25,000 and a $25,000 grant from the Catholic Charities Organization.
“I am a volunteer this year with Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” Syl Flores said, “I represent ‘A Future Without Poverty.
“A Future Without Poverty groups believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to have a future without poverty. This place, Ripley’s Gourmet Tortillas is a part of that program through the grants we received.
“We did an extensive study to see just what kind of jobs we could create here and we identified that there is some good agriculture in this area, but a declining population. From 2010 to 2012, for example, the 45167 zip code lost 308 people.
Flores said that those 308 people either moved away or were deceased. He said he held several focus groups more than once, they said they would leave this area but were too broke to make a move.
“With that logic, the 308 people, not only are there fewer, but we became poorer,” he added. “So my goal here was not only employ several people but to also be able to ship our handmade tortillas and other items across the country.
“Thanks to our grants, we now have our own machine that can make 1200 tortillas per hour. And we are now working with The Home Place in Georgetown where we will be making, bagging and delivering them to them. They will have their logo on them. In our granola cinnamon tortillas, we purchase our fresh granola from The Home Place.”
Flores said his goal is to buy all local products, hire local people and work with young people.
Ripley’s Gourmet Tortillas employs 7 people. He said he has hired a couple 14 year olds in hopes of keeping them from falling into trouble. He also works with Ripley High School students from its culinary arts class.
“These Ripley students do something like a mini-internship with us,” Flores said. “Some of the students get hired on here.”
Flores says that his tortillas offer a healthier, natural choice to its customers, who actually roll their own tortilla, they can wrap it, burrito it, side it or order it any way they want it.
The tortilla itself is made fresh right in front of the customer and comes in original, wheat, spinach, cayenne, garlic herb, tomato basil and granola, made with honey.
The menu also includes tacos, fajitas, steak and veggie as entrees. Toppers include pinto or black beans, veggies, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, corn relish, pico de gallo, spanish or white rice and cheese. Several desserts are also on the menu.
Ripley’s Gourmet Tortillas is open to the public Tuesday through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and can be reached at (937) 392-4000.