A lifelong resident of Chicago, Ms. Barson has extensive experience in opening and managing restaurants and other small businesses in Chicago and around the country. She also functions as a consultant to other local business owners.
She started out slicing onions and cleaning grease traps in her father’s restaurant when she was only 12. Instead of discouraging her from an industry which at that time, had very few women operators, she thrived on the challenges and the interesting people she met on a daily basis.
After running restaurants for venerable companies such as Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, she began her own business helping others open theirs. In 1995 she started Educational Advantage, Inc. a hospitality and small business consulting firm which provides independent operators with the edge to compete with larger chain enterprises.
Educational Advantage, Inc. is WBE certified in the City of Chicago, Cook County and the State of Illinois, DBE/ACDBE certified in the City of Chicago, and a Section 3 owned business.
In 1998, Ms Barson opened Carmichael’s Chicago Steak House, which led to a position as Vice President of Carmichael Properties. She was responsible for overseeing the construction, marketing and sales of 25 row houses in the West Loop. In 2004, Ms. Barson opened a Curves for Women franchise in the up and coming South Loop neighborhood.
During her tenure with Carmichael Enterprises she served on the board of the West Loop Gate Association participating on the development committee. She has also served on the board of the Chicago chapter of the Round Table for Women in Foodservice and the Fred and Jean Allegretti Charitable Foundation.
Through her association with The West Loop Gate Association, Ms. Barson developed a relationship with Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. In 1998 she ran the First Annual Crab Races to benefit Mercy Home. The event continued for more than 17 years and raised more that $100,000 for Mercy Home. She has also raised an additional $100,000 for Mercy Home through her association with the Allegretti Charitable Foundation.