Down syndrome caterer Downey's a success

Restaurants in The Netherlands employing disabled people are growing fast in number. One such restaurants is Downey's in Amersfoort. This restaurant employs people with Down's syndrome, and is a hit in the city., according to newspaper AD.

Downey's opened its doors five years ago. At that time, there were only a handful of similar restaurants in the country. Exact figures are not known, but according to restaurant guide, there are around 40 restaurants in The Netherlands with disabled people as staff.

Annerieke Nieuwenhuis, the full-time supervisor at Downey's, is helped by volunteers and interns, the newspaper writes. Her parents started the restaurant to provide a useful investment of time for their disabled son Arjan. Their 12 employees are not paid because they get young disabled persons' allowance.

The staff at Downey's are encouraged to work entirely independently. "We let our people do everything themselves. They vacuum, take orders, make breakfast, or tuna salad and handle the receipts. But that only works if someone is always present, who looks if everything goes well", Nieuwenhuis says.

The supervisor admits that there's not a lot of money being made. "Doesn't matter: As long as we can pay off our loans."

Brownies&Downies, which has 12 establishments in Brabant and Limburg, are very successful, and may even go national. "My goal is not to become millionaire, but to work with these fantastic people", says Brownies&Downies founder Thijs Swinkels. "Yes, we make a turnover of €12,000 to €15,000 per year per establishment. But we are also idealistic. Our steady, professional employees are paid entirely from the turnover. But the money that we get from the government, we put into care for our people."