Tim’s Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is named after a young man with Down Syndrome, Tim Harris.
Tim calls it “the world’s friendliest restaurant.” He works there six days a week and greets each customer at the door.
For StoryCorps, Tim sat down with his father, Keith, who helped him start the business in 2010.
Click here for the transcript.
Tim Harris (TH): It felt awesome. I wanted to own a restaurant ever since I was a kid. That was my dream.
KH: So when somebody comes to your restaurant for the first time, when do they get to see you?
TH: When they come through the front door. And when they see me, they just melt into my arms for a hug.
KH: So what's the hard part about having Down Syndrome?
TH: In school, I remember some kids calling me the R-word. I was not happy.
KH: When you were in high school how did you decide that you wanted to go to college?
TH: I wanted to learn to be independent, so I can become a businessman.
KH: When your mom and I dropped you off that first day Tim, we really didn't want to leave. Maybe around 2 o'clock, you looked at your watch and said, "I think you guys better get back to Albuquerque, it's a long drive." And I still remember what it felt like to get in that car and drive away. It was one of the most scary and sad moments of my life. What was that like for you?
TH: I pretty much, like, stayed in my room because I was upset--missing my mom and dad. That was the saddest part. I cried in my pillow. My pillow was nothing but tears. So I decided to knock it off and make friends. It didn't take long.
KH: Did you have parties in the dorm and stuff like that?
TH: Oh yeah. Dance parties too.
KH: Nice. So when you meet families in the restaurant and other places that have babies and little kids with Down Syndrome, what kind of advice do you have for those families?
TH: I think those families have somebody very special. Families tell me, You inspire my kid. There's hope for my son or daughter. And when I see people with disabilities, and they tell me, Tim, I want to be like you, It's pretty cool.
Hey dad, could I ask you a question?
TH: How does it feel having a son with a disability?
KH: You know Tim, when you were born I was filled with a lot of doubts about whether I could be a good enough dad to be your dad. And many years later now, I'm so happy to have you in my life. I'm very very proud of you and what you've become.
TH: Dad, you are the most loving dad ever. And mom too. You guys are my super heroes. And having you in my life, that makes me special.