DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In his two decades in the industry, Tom Landis said that he’s learned the restaurant business is not about food — it’s about people. That is why the Dallas businessman plans to open up an ice cream parlor run entirely by employees with special needs.READ MORE: Texas Officer Dies After Crash With 18-Wheeler While Responding To Emergency
“It’s people first, then food,” Landis said. “I think that’s where most in the restaurant industry get it wrong.”
However, Landis said, don’t mistake his restaurant idea for charity. He explained that it makes business sense.
As owner of the Texadelphia restaurant on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, Landis currently employs 11 individuals with special needs. In an industry where employee turnover is often near 300 percent, Landis said that he has been able to find skilled and loyal employees.
“Let’s look at what can we do, not with their disabilities, but what can we do with their abilities,” Landis said.READ MORE: Padel Players Try Out For US National Team In Dallas
Coleman Jones, an 18-year-old with Down syndrome, started working as a cashier at Texadelphia less than two weeks ago. “I love my job,” he said. “This is who I am.”
Landis said that, while it may take Jones a little longer to learn how operate a register, he has already proven to be exceptional when it comes to customer service.
“With the Down syndrome guys, they always smile and give you great customer service,” Landis said. “I think that is what we are going to tap into.”
After years in the quick-serve restaurant business, Landis said that he has found those with Down syndrome often make ideal cashiers. While many with autism, who thrive with routine, he said, make excellent food preps.MORE NEWS: Over 250 Guns Surrendered To DeSoto Police During Saturday Event
However, plans for an ice cream parlor called Howdy Homemade have been met with reluctance by traditional investors. This is why Landis is hoping to raise the last $25,000 he needs through donations. You can help out by donating to his GoFundMe account.