North Texas Restaurant Hiring People With Special Needs

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HIGHLAND PARK, TX -- When it comes to hiring a new employee, bosses are always looking for someone special. And 18-year-old Coleman Jones knew he had what it took to get the job.

“Not to boast or anything, but compared to everybody, to me, everyone else is like puny," he said.

Coleman Jones has Downs Syndrome and plenty of confidence. He's the big man on campus at Highland Park High School. Even though he graduated last year, he is now part of a transitional program that helps special needs students with life skills.

“They come into our program after they’ve accomplished their credits in high school, and our ultimate goal is to get them prepared for the real world," he explained.

Coleman got to use those real world skills recently when the H.P. football team had a pre-game dinner at Texadelphia restaurant, and Colman was one of the students who helped set up and serve. When Coleman was on his way out the door, owner Tom Landis made him an offer he couldn't pass up.

“I just kept looking around the room and seeing this guy going up and shaking people’s hands, getting them a refill, and I said, 'I just got to hire him,'” Landis said.

Coleman's mother, Lendy Jones told Newsfix, “Tom was so funny he said, 'Coleman do you have a job?'”

“I start today! It’s going to be a big step in the right direction,” said Coleman

It's also the first step of something bigger. Landis plans to open an ice cream shop called Howdy Homemade, staffed  completely with special needs folks.

“We believe that the restaurant business is first and foremost about people, not food. To get special food you need special needs people,” Landis said.

His special staff will give customers service with a smile and kids like Coleman will get a chance to serve up something special.

“What a good experience this will be for a wonderful guy like me,”  Coleman said.