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New restaurant employs people with Down Syndrome

21:07 20/09/2018

A new restaurant has opened on Avenue Louise that only employs servers with Down Syndrome. The four collaborators in the restaurant all have backgrounds either in working with the mentally disabled or in food service.

With 65 degrés, the operators want to help people who have a hard time breaking into the workforce. They are working together with specialists in integrating disabled people into society and in the socio-professional sector.

“There are more than 10,000 people in Belgium with Down Syndrome, which means more than one in every 1,000 people,” the managers say on the website. “Many more have other mental disabilities. And yet their presence in society is very limited in everyday life. We want to demonstrate that you can work with people whose disabilities are only one facet of who they are. They have so many other qualities just waiting to be revealed.”

The newspaper Bruzz visited the restaurant and were told by the servers that they enjoyed the work and the contact with the customers. “I’m really good at talking to people,” said Marie-Sophie Lamarche, one of the servers.

“Paying close attention to customers doesn’t come that naturally to everyone,” co-owner Valentin Cogels told the paper. “But they do this automatically. They ask themselves ‘Is this customer satisfied?’ or ‘Is everything OK with him?’ And because they don’t really have any brakes, they just ask it. So you really have the feeling here that you’re an important customer.”

The restaurant’s chef, Nicolas Titeux (second from right), already has a catering business and is aiming for top gastronomy at 65 degrés. As for the name of the restaurant, it’s the perfect temperature to cook an egg.

Photo courtesy Tribe Agency

Written by Lisa Bradshaw