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Ryan Storrie remembered as everybody's best friend

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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Ryan Storrie, 29, lived to open a restaurant that had personality and character in the way food was cooked and presented. He saw the fulfillment of his dream come true. Sadly, it was too short-lived.

Ryan Storrie, 29, lived to open a restaurant that had personality and character in the way food was cooked and presented. He saw the fulfillment of his dream come true. Sadly, it was too short-lived.

Ryan Storrie was the best friend of more people than he ever could have imagined. 

"Ryan had a ton of people say 'he's my best friend' because he was everybody's best friend," Tim Kearns said. Kearns and Storrie were best friends and opened Ember, a downtown Greer restaurant, on New Year's Eve.

One month later Storrie, 29, died of a heart attack. Storrie called Kearns on that fateful Tuesday morning saying he was on his way to the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital at Patewood with chest pains and his legs feeling numb. He was transferred to St. Francis in downtown Greenville and died a short time later. "He was having a heart attack and dying and he was calling me," Kearns said.

The unenviable task of notifying Ember's staff and Storrie's friends fell upon Kearns.

Kearns said Storrie was the exception to the caveat of opening a business with a friend. "He was the one friend I would ever consider opening a business with. People didn't realize he turned down a promotion and more money to fulfill his dream. He had financial struggles at times and he stayed with me, but he saw it all come together. We made money in January, our first month, and he was happy. He lived his dream and saw it come true."

Storrie came up with the name Ember and the restaurant's themed Salt Block where food is cooked table side on a 600-700 degree block of salt. "He was the face of Ember and a people person. Everybody loved him," Kearns said. Storrie took the opportunity to add his signature dish to the menu – smoked chicken over pepper jack grits with maple bacon.

 Storrie was also good for laughs. He was unpacking the 6-inch x 6-inch salt blocks several days before opening, gingerly stacking them so they wouldn't chip or break. He was instructing the staff how little seasoning was needed because the block's minerals were absorbed into the foods.  "Oh. Don't forget not to put the blocks under water, they will melt," he said, explaining how he found out. Those around Storrie laughed at his faux pas.

Ember closed a couple of days during Storrie's services and funeral. Kearns hosted family and close friends Wednesday evening. Kearns' first day back was Friday. "That was a tough day," Kearns said. "I couldn't come back until that Friday. He's like a brother to me.

"My first thought when I learned about Ryan's death was to sell the restaurant," Kearns said. "I'm definitely not going to do that. My first responsibility is to keep this restaurant going. His parents, (Michael and Rita Storrie of Simpsonville) were so supportive of Ryan and said they would like for it to remain open and do anything they can to help."

Storrie's parents ate at the restaurant at least twice a week, often bringing friends. "They were so proud of Ryan," Kearns said.

"Ryan was a happy-go-lucky guy. He was very driven and excited about the restaurant," said Alaina Harshaw, a member of Ember's staff. "Ryan's thing was he would stand at the kitchen window and run food to the customers and chat with them. But he wouldn't let a dish leave the window if it wasn't ready."

Harshaw has favorite images of Storrie. "He knew when we needed help. He would put on a long apron and get to work washing dishes if needed. When I came in the door Ryan would have a big smile on his  face and made me smile back."

Ian Titus, of the wait staff, said he wasn't alarmed, at first, hearing Storrie was ill. "I didn't want to believe how sick he was," Titus said. "I kept saying to people, don't worry, he'll be all right. Ryan's strong."

Titus has been comforted in the public's sensitivity to Storrie's death. "People calling for reservations have said, 'I'm so sorry hearing about Ryan'. It's sad but it makes you feel good they appreciated Ryan."

Titus said activity would pick up during certain cycles and at times serving customers would be frenetic. "Ryan was probably the least nervous of any of us. I've never seen him upset. He would listen to you describe issues or problems and calmly say, 'OK, we can't have that.'"

Jason Clark, owner of BIN112, offered his help to Kearns and his staff. City Administrator Ed Driggers sent Kearns a personal letter of condolence. "That meant so much to us," Kearns said. "Greer takes care of its own and (Ryan) and I were so glad to have a restaurant here."

"It was weird to see how far Ryan's reach was," Harshaw said. "At his wake there were so many different people from all walks of life. Some people I hadn't seen since (Easley) high school. There were representatives from the Ingles family. He touched so many lives in a positive way."

"People remember Ryan for what he was," Kearns said. "He made the restaurant work and we will carry on his dream he accomplished in the last six months of his life."

People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

Ryan Storrie

Businesses mentioned in this article.

BIN112, City of Greer

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