Ascension restaurant opens its doors to employees with special needs

PRAIRIEVILLE, La. (WAFB) – A restaurant owner is opening its doors to people with special needs seeking employment.

Staff shortages have been a major problem for businesses, especially restaurants. So, to help get his new restaurant off the ground, Urian Clements is giving people with special needs a chance. And for now, it pays off.

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“It’s always been a goal to employ people with special needs…and it’s worked out wonderfully,” Clements said.

Clements’ brother suffered from Down’s syndrome, so he always understood the additional hurdles in the lives of people with special needs.

“They are very proud of their work; they show up on time every day…you really can’t ask for better employees,” Clements continued.

It currently employs eight people with special needs who are functioning well, along with the rest of its staff. He said each of them is the life of the restaurant.

“You know, you might run over their pup in the morning, and they’ll still come to work with a smile on their face. It’s just their behavior,” Clements explained.

“It means the world to me beyond expectation because they are so nice they would do anything for us disabled. It’s the first job I’ve ever had…it’s a blessing that they’re doing this. And, we’re family here,” said Seth Whitney, who does the dishes for the restaurant.

“His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds, and his independence, his self-esteem…I really believe that now he believes in himself,” Seth’s mother, Phoebe Terry, said.

For Seth and other people with disabilities, a chance at a job is the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I clean the tables as soon as the customers leave, that’s our thing. I make sure the place is clean and nice, that sort of thing,” said Spencer Decoteau, who hauls the tables.

Asked about his message to other people with disabilities, Spencer said: ‘Be stubborn, keep looking, keep being stubborn and keep looking. Because in the end, that’s all we could do. If we don’t become stubborn or adapt to our situation, then where would we be… that’s how we got here.

“Just keep your head up and stay motivated because sooner or later your life will get a lot better,” Seth said.

Urian Clements and his wife wanted to emphasize that their doors are always open to anyone willing to work hard. The only requirement is that you come with a positive attitude.

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