France to get its first ‘Down Syndrome restaurant’

A restaurant with a difference is about to open in Nantes, western France.

The reason it is different from every other restaurant in France?  The staff members have Down syndrome.

A first for the country, which is being seen as a positive step to help the integrate those who have the condition into mainstream society.

Le Reflet, the name of the restaurant, will employ six members of staff with Down Syndrome.

Two will be cooks whilst four will be waiters.

Flore Lelièvre, the 26-year-old interior designer who is driving the project told Ouest France newspaper:

“We call them our extra-ordinary employees. They will work alongside a cook and a manager, who will be ordinary.”

The menus will be simplified, with three choices for each starter, main and dessert. Most of the food will be cooked in advance at low-temperature to minimise stress.

“We’ll have visuals and colour codes at the tables to help employees who can’t read or write to take the customers’ orders,” said Lelièvre.

For those with limited fine motor skills, she has moulded fingerprints into the plates so that waiters can get a better grip but also feel more confident.

The restaurant will have a designated room for resting and the kitchen will be equipped with special seating for the cooks.

Inspired by the fact her own brother has Down Syndrome, Lelièvre began working on the project as part of her interior design studies degree.

Her aim was to create a workplace where those with the condition could be part of society, just like everyone else. Soon after, her teacher became her associate and they created an charity.

A pizzeria in Rome currently employs thirteen people with Down syndrome and is a great success.

“Someone told me it’s just like any other place, except that all the waiters are friendly!” she said.

by James Vasina

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