Society

Alaska Restaurant Owner's Facebook Post Defending Autistic Employee Goes Viral

| by Sean Kelly
Little Italy Restaurante owner P.J. GialopsosLittle Italy Restaurante owner P.J. Gialopsos

An Anchorage, Alaska, restaurant was flooded with support after the owner shared a Facebook post detailing the “firing” of a customer who mistreated an autistic employee.

According to Little Italy Restaurante owner P.J. Gialopsos, a call came in to her establishment on Nov. 7 from a customer who complained about one of the delivery drivers.

“He informed us our driver was an idiot and strung out on drugs and was FURIOUS!" Gialopsos wrote in the Nov. 10 Facebook post. "It was calmly explained to him, no, this driver is not on drugs....nor does he drink....he is autistic and has a slight speech impediment. The customer called the phone person a liar, had a few more choice words for her and hung up.”

Gialopsos went on to explain that when the driver returned, he told her that he made a small mistake in the man’s order but quickly rectified it. 

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The correction, according to the owner’s Facebook post, “didn’t satisfy this man” and prompted him to berate the employee and call him names.

“It isn't the first time I've had a comment about this employee, but normally, as soon as I explain, they are always VERY understanding that the mannerisms had a reason,” Gialopsos wrote.

“This driver has worked for us for two years," she added. "He is a seriously accomplished University student, has an amazingly inquisitive personality, a wicked sense of humor and one helluva work ethic!”

The appalled owner took action by doing something unprecedented on behalf of her employee.

“We have fired this customer," Gialopsos wrote. "That address, that name and phone number will be tagged with a DO NOT DELIVER DO NOT ACCEPT ORDER message.

“ ... And won't that customer be surprised later in life to learn that his 'idiot strung out' delivery driver long ago turned out to be the physicist, microbiologist or chemical engineer who could quite possibly make a discovery that will save his sorry *** someday.”

The post quickly went viral, garnering over 26,000 likes and nearly 7,000 shares as of this writing.

“From a mother whose son is Autistic, and whose brother is also Autistic, thank you for standing by your employee,” one reader commented on Little Italy Restaurante’s post. “You gave mothers like me hope that people are listening to our kids, and learning to be more compassionate and accepting of them. Sending love from our family to yours.”

Gialopsos told the Alaska Dispatch News that the employee is thrilled over the positive feedback that the Facebook post has received.

Sources: Alaska Dispatch NewsLittle Italy Restaurante Facebook / Photo credit: Bill Roth/Alaska Dispatch News, Little Italy Alaska