Man with Down syndrome owns, operates ‘world’s friendliest restaurant’ that doles out kindness
Tim Harris, a university graduate, medal-winning Special Olympian and motivational speaker, owns Tim’s Place in Albuquerque, where every customer is offered a hug — free of charge.
The self-proclaimed “world’s friendliest restaurant” sits in Albuquerque, N.M. and serves “breakfast, lunch and hugs” every day of the week.
The kicker? Tim’s Place may be the only restaurant in the country owned and operated by someone, 27-year-old Tim Harris, with Down syndrome, his parents say.
“When you have a kid with substantial disabilities you have to think a lot about their future,” Keith Harris, Tim’s father, told ABC News.“We were very motivated for Tim to have as normal as life as possible. Our philosophy as a family was to push the envelope as much as we could toward independence, so that one day when my wife and I are no longer in the picture, Tim will be settled and have his own life.”
Restaurateur Tim Harris has doled out more than 32,000 hugs to customers at his eatery, Tim’s Place, in Albuquerque.
It’s been a dream of Tim’s to own and operate a restaurant since he was 13 and he’s let nothing get in his way. The entrepreneur has always been a high achiever, according to his restaurant’s website, which details his selection as Homecoming King in high school and his graduation from Eastern New Mexico University with a degree in food service and office skills. Tim is a gold medal-winning Special Olympian, a sailor and fisherman, motivational speaker and, as of 2010, a business owner. He works six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., greets and welcomes his customers and oversees several employees.
Tim “works the room like a gifted politician and visits every table,” Keith Harris told ABC.
Since he opened the family restaurant, Tim has served up plenty of breakfasts and lunches. But there’s one calorie free, and free of charge, menu item Tim loves most to dish up: a Tim hug. A “hug counter” on the diner’s website shows 32,475 squeezes given out - with more to come.
A satisfied customer getting the special at Tim's Place, a restaurant run by Tim Harris, who has Down syndrome.
“I love giving all the customers a hug because I want them to feel comfortable and connected and being around friends,” Tim told KRQE-TV in an interview.
“My business is all about the people coming through that door,” he added.
Customers love coming to Albuquerque’s Tim’s Place, owned by Tim Harris, who lifts up his clientele with a free hug.
“He has this unique quality where he is happy literally every day,” his mother, Jeannie Harris, told the TV station.
Tim lives in his own apartment next to the restaurant and has had a girlfriend, Whitney, for the last 10 months, ABC reported.
“I tell other people about my story, and with people with disabilities, I tell them that they can follow their dreams,” Tim said.