In the southern Spanish city of Jerez, a beautiful, modern restaurant exists where even the people behind the Michelin firmament have been known to dine. But that’s not what makes this restaurant particularly special. What makes it so unique is that the entire staff is made up of people with disabilities.
The restaurant, which goes by the name Universo Santi, has 20 employees ranging from 22 to 62 with some form of disability who were recruited from an original list of 1,500. For instance, the head of human resources suffers from cerebral palsy while the commis chef of the restaurant has Down’s Syndrome. Regardless, the restaurant operates spectacularly and continues to win plaudits for its cuisine, showing the world that people with handicaps can work just like any other human being when given the right opportunity.
Universo Santi isn’t the only restaurant giving disabled people a new lease of life. One is La Fourchette de Collserola in Barcelona, which is staffed by 20 people with a range of physical and mental disabilities. Meanwhile, in the small Dutch town of Veghel, a café known as Brownies&downieS launched in 2010 that is run by people with Down’s syndrome. Thus far, the café has been so successful that it became a franchise, with 53 branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa.
This story was one of the best from 2019, and we are happy to include it in our “12 Days of Optimism” as we get ready to welcome 2020!