Tim Harris has Down Syndrome. He also owns and operates his own restaurant, Tim’s Place in Albuquerque, which is known around town as the “world’s friendliest restaurant.” It’s easy to see why. “We serve breakfast, lunch and hugs,” Tim said in a video created by AOL (although just last week the restaurant also started serving dinner). “The hugs are the best part.” Every morning, Harris gets up at 5:30 a.m. and literally dances his way to work. Every customer who comes through the doors at Tim’s Place is greeted by the hands-on owner, who introduces himself and pulls them into a big hug. In Harris’s eyes, it’s the hugs that make the place special. “The hugs are way more important than the food,” he says. When he was a kid, Harris told his mom and dad, Keith and Jeannie, that he wanted to run a restaurant. As he got older, his parents recognized that this was a dream that wasn’t going away. Now, Tim’s Place is a family affair. Harris’s dad helped him get the business started, and his older brother Dan is the restaurant’s operations manager. As far as the family knows, Harris is the only person with Down syndrome to run a restaurant in the U.S., but they hope he won’t be the last. “I did not let my disability crush my dreams,” Harris says. “People with disabilities, they can do anything they set their mind to. We’re a gift to the world.”
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