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Tim Harris - Owner of the 'World's friendliest Restaurant'

Written by: Iris

Tim Harris - Owner of the 'World's friendliest Restaurant' post image

Meet Tim Harris, Owner of the self-proclaimed 'World's friendliest Restaurant'

Tim Harris, is one really amazing person. Tim has Down syndrome and owns a restaurant in New Mexico where he makes a point of hugging every customer who walks through his door.

As anyone who's ever made a habit of eating out can tell you, restaurant service can be unpredictable, unnerving and off-putting.

The food can be late. Servers can be rude and management can sometimes seem indifferent to your complaints and needs.

This isn't the case at Tim's Place in Albuquerque, N.M., where every meal is accompanied by a hug from owner Tim Harris, who has Down syndrome.

At Tim's Place, Harris serves "breakfast, lunch and hugs, but hugs are the best part," he concedes in an AOL video report.

So far, according to the eatery's website, Harris has doled out almost 32,500 hugs. In fact, Harris greets and hugs every customer who comes through the door, plays host, serves food and oversees several employees.

Harris "works the room like a gifted politician and visits every table," his father told ABC News.

The 27-year-old is believed to be the only person with Down syndrome to own a restaurant, something he's wanted to do since he was a kid. His parents, Keith and Jeannie Harris, who opened the restaurant for their son, have always pushed Tim to be as independent as possible. Harris, who has three brothers, one of whom works as a manager at Tim's Place, was never treated any differently than his siblings despite his disability.

"We were very motivated for Tim to have as normal a life as possible," Keith Harris told ABC. "Our philosophy as a family was to push the envelope as much as we could toward independence, so that one day when my wife and I are no longer in the picture, Tim will be settled and have his own life."

As a teen, Harris showed interest in working at restaurants and was a host at a local Red Robin and Applebee's. His father said people liked coming in to see the jovial Harris, and that the restaurants he was a part of generally functioned better when he was around.

After Harris graduated from a mainstream high school — where he was voted homecoming king — and completed certificate programs in food service and office skills at Eastern New Mexico University, his parents had what they called a "little light bulb moment."

Why, they asked, couldn’t they harness their son's contagious happiness and zeal for hospitality to his economic benefit?

"He has this unique quality where he is happy literally every day," Jeannie Harris

The result of Keith and Jeannie's realization is Tim's Place, which they opened for him in 2010. While Harris' parents technically own the restaurant, they plan to transfer it to a trust in his name.

Every day except Tuesday, which is Harris' day off, he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. at his apartment across the street, where he lives alone, and arrives to work at around 7 a.m. He's so excited to start the work day that he performs a "dance off" in the parking lot of Tim's Place.

"It's a dance, of magic," he told AOL.

Harris has a girlfriend, speaks as a motivational speaker and is a medal-winning Special Olympics athlete. He claims to have won more medals than Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

"I tell people with disabilities to stay in school, so they can follow their dreams," he told ABC.


Some of Tim's Recent Raving Fans:

SharkPuppyTV at Tim's Place: Breakfast • Lunch • Hugs

The Holy Smokers visit Tim's Place