Pleasant Hill’s Sharon James Drives Home Company’s Values with a Personality

During those times you sit and look around as you eat at Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, is there someone you have seen over the years that come up to you and make you feel warm and happy like seeing a friend again? And they feel passionate about what they do?

Little did Sharon James know just how much fun she would create or the lasting impact she would have on guests when she joined the Sweet Tomatoes team at Pleasant Hill, CA, 13 years ago.

In those 13 years (as of August 20, 2016), Sharon has embraced the company’s values of “hospitality is fun,” “respect for each individual,” and “ever authentic,” says Lonnie Rodrigues, the Pleasant Hill General Manager (GM) who hired her and is so happy he did. When he added Sharon to the team he was Service Manager at the time. He later was promoted to GM and served in other Sweet Tomatoes before returning to Pleasant Hill.

Lonnie had asked Sharon to manage the mail to be sent out to a guest. Rather than mailing it, Sharon decided to drive to the customer’s home in nearby Walnut Creek.

“My shift normally starts at 4 p.m. and I saw that Lonnie wanted me to mail it, but since I was early and had time to drive to the guest’s home I decided to do that. Boy was Lauren (the guest) surprised that I drove over and she was just so pleased with our personal attention and service,” Sharon said.

But this was not the first time that Sharon has engaged with guests to make the experience like no other. Since her early days with the company, she welcomes guests and their families and has formed lasting friendships that are not forgotten.

“When I first started I would welcome everyone as if they were coming into my home. Then, as I had time going around to the tables, I would play trivia games with the kids. It was always about some trivia or another, but all intended to be educational and memorable,” she says. “Kids who were about 10 years old when I started are now in their early 20s and it is so much fun to see how they are grown up and they still remind me of the memories we’ve shared,” Sharon adds.

She has also created memories with her co-workers. One Christmas party was particularly fun as Sharon won a record player.

“We have such good fun together. It is truly like a family at work and I am so happy to be doing what I do. I get to talk to people, try to spread some good cheer and make our guests feel comfortable and welcome. What could be better than that?”

Have you met Sharon James or someone like her at your Souplantation or Sweet Tomatoes that you have enjoyed seeing over the years? Tell us your story.

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