After a rude diner complained about a special needs employee at a pizza shop, the owner decided to address the issue by hanging the perfect sign on the restaurant’s front door. The message said it all.
Amanda Cartagine, the owner of Pizza Inn on Woodruff Road in Greenville, South Carolina, goes above and beyond to help those with disabilities in her community by giving them jobs at her pizza shop. In fact, Amanda said that, at one point, 63% of her kitchen staff at the Pizza Inn had special needs, and it’s a hiring practice she’s proud of doing.
Amanda strives to make her staff feel like part of the team, regardless of their limitations, and she said her employees always come to work with smiles on their faces. Even though many of her staff members have special needs, Amanda knows they can still do certain jobs if given the chance, but it takes patience and time to let them learn — something she’s been more than happy to provide.
“If you have the patience to let them take their time and learn at their pace — when the light bulb comes on, they are unstoppable,” Amanda explained, adding that her employees have an incredible work ethic, whether they are washing dishes or serving pizza, WYFF 4 reported.
Sadly, Amanda’s hiring practices didn’t sit well with one customer, who launched a complaint about an employee with autism. The incident allegedly unfolded on a Sunday when the customer complained about the service at the pizza shop after asking an employee with autism to fill the lettuce bowl on the salad bar.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as the customer had expected. With the customer agitated that the employee hadn’t done as asked, the manager stepped in to explain, hoping to diffuse the situation, but to no avail.
“My manager explained to him the situation privately, ‘That’s not his job. We’ve trained him to do this and there are special circumstances,’ and the customer was still not happy,” Amanda recalled.
Hearing the restaurant’s explanation, the customer suggested that Pizza Inn hang a sign on the door to make customers aware of the pizza shop’s hiring practices. Amanda admitted that the remark made her angry, and she wanted to protect her employees but in a kind way that made a point.
“These are like my kids, and it made me angry. I wanted to do something that was not rude, but got my point across,” she said.
That’s when Amanda decided to do exactly as the customer had suggested and hung a sign on the door.
“We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and hire all of God’s children,” Amanda’s sign on the front door of Pizza Inn read.
Caring most about standing up for her employees, the pizza shop owner said that she didn’t care if her message scared off the complaining customer.
“If he is not OK with that, then I’m OK with him not coming back,” she explained. “That’s a dollar that I don’t need.”
Angie Mosley, whose son Ryan has Down syndrome and was given a job at Pizza Inn, spoke out to applaud the pizza shop, explaining the difference Amanda had made in Ryan’s life by hiring him.
“He loved the first paycheck,” Angie recalled. “He loved the fact that he has money in the bank and he can actually go buy his favorite video game.”
Like Amanda, Angie was disappointed to learn that a customer had complained about the autistic employee since so few businesses are willing and able to take the time to train people with special needs.
“We parents with special needs [children] are always faced with breaking down barriers, stigmas, teaching other people that our children are more like them, than different,” Angie said, adding that she hopes the sign encourages people to be more open-minded.
We share this story because Amanda Cartagine is an inspiration that all people should follow. Not only has she displayed patience and kindness by hiring special needs employees, but she also showed grace in the face of conflict, handling a customer’s complaint with dignity that’s unmatched. Where most would want to lambaste this level of rudeness, Amanda silenced the naysayer with a finesse that deserves applause.