Little Italy Restaurante in Anchorage, Alaska recently demonstrated solidarity by refusing service. The restaurant stood behind its staff member with a disability, demonstrating that discrimination and disrespect would not be tolerated– by staff or customers. The restaurant’s management chose to value humanity over business.
In addition to its extensive dine-in menu consisting of fan-favorite Italian and Greek dishes, Little Italy Restaurante delivers. A customer recently ordered food for delivery, then later called the restaurant to complain about the delivery service he received. In his complaint, the customer used profane and aggressive insults to the driver, who happens to have a disability. He claimed the driver was under the influence of drugs, causing him to bring him the wrong food and to be unable to communicate with the customer.
The staff member who took the call, owner P.J. Gialopsos’s daughter, tried to explain to the customer what had happened, enlightening him on the unique challenges the delivery driver faces, informing him that his autism and speech disorder may have affected his ability to communicate fully. The customer, apparently, showed no compassion or understanding and continued to berate the employee. When the driver returned to the restaurant, he was visibly upset, informing his boss that he had been yelled at and called names for mixing up the order, giving him no chance to fix his mistake.
In response, Ms. Gialopsos and her husband, who own the restaurant together, decided to “fire” the customer. They informed all of their staff that they were not going to accept his calls, allow him to sit at their tables, or deliver any food to him. Additionally, she posted on Facebook about the incident to ensure all of the rest of their customers and community members understood that intolerant attitudes would not go unnoticed at her establishment.
For their advocacy, Mr. and Ms. Gialopsos should be acknowledged and applauded. Thank you for raising awareness, building a sense of support around your driver, and extending your hand in support of all individuals with disabilities. We are honored to share this cause with you!
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–Written by Elise Hopkins, KIT Staff
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.