Restaurant owner puts up sign after customer complains about employee with special needs

Restaurant owner puts up sign after customer complains about employee with special needs

Finding a place for gainful employment can be a nightmare at the absolute best of times, but it can be a nightmare if you have special needs. According to 2017 statistics from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, as little as 18.7 percent of people living with a disability are in employment (compared to 65.7 percent for those without a disability).

Although things are getting better (that employment number is up from the previous year), there have been some teething problems with getting more special needs workers employed, and sadly, not everyone is happy to have them there. But one restaurant owner has won the heart of the internet after putting up a sign relating to one of her special needs employees.

Downs Syndrome Credit: Getty

Amanda Cartagine owns a restaurant called Pizza Inn, out in Greenville, South Carolina. At Pizza Inn, Cartagine reveals that more than half the kitchen staff have special needs, and that the entire workforce does whatever they can to help everyone feel welcome at the restaurant, regardless of their limitations.

"Out of my 16 crew members, kitchen crew members, 10 of them [have] special needs. And I'm proud of that. I'm proud of the crew and the work they do. They do an amazing job."

"If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace, when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable," Cartagine explained. But when a customer had a less-than-optimal interaction with one of her employees with special needs, Cartagine felt the need to put up a sign to settle the issue once and for all.

A customer at Pizza Inn had a bone to pick with management staff after asking a worker with autism to refill a lettuce bowl - a task which the employee hadn't been trained to carry out. The upset customer complained to management about the service, as Cartagine revealed.

Lettuce Bowl Credit: Getty

"My manager explained to him the situation privately, 'That's not his job. We've trained him to do this and there are special circumstances,' and the customer was still not happy," she recalled, and said the customer then asked if Pizza Inn would put up a sign explaining the situation at the restaurant. Cartagine had to think about it.

"These are like my kids, and it made me angry. I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across," she said, but after some careful thought and consideration, she came up with something which she's pretty happy with, all things considered.

Pizza Inn Sign Credit: Angie Mosely

"We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire all of God's children," says the sign (as you can see above), and Angie Mosely, who has a son with Down's Syndrome employed at this Pizza Inn, is just one of the people hailing Amanda Cartagine and her restaurant's amazing work.

"We parents with special needs [children] are always faced with breaking down barriers, stigmas, teaching other people that our children are more like them, than different... He [Mosely's son] loved the first paycheck. He loved the fact that he has money in the bank and he can actually go buy his favorite video game."

Unsurprisingly, Cartagine's actions that day have gone down well online, and restaurant owner says that in the future, people realise that people with special needs are "a unique group that everyone should tap into, because they will bless you more than you will ever know". As for the customer who made the complaint? "If he is not OK with that, then I'm OK with him not coming back," says Cartagine.

"That's a dollar that I don't need."