There’s a Restaurant in Spain Where All Staff Have a Disability

There is a restaurant in southern Spain that is widely recognized for having the most delicious food in the area. Locals rave about it, and people travel from far and wide to enjoy the exquisite dishes. Sounds impressive, right? Well, it’s called Universo Santi, and every employee at the restaurant has some kind of disability.

“I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of,” Antonio Vila told The Guardian. “They were not represented in the world of haute cuisine. Universo Santi has broken through that barrier.”

Vila is the president of a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping people with disabilities get rewarding jobs. He was a major driving force behind opening Universo Santi, which now has 20 employees who all have some form of disability.

The restaurant hired from a list of 1,500 applicants, all of whom had to be unemployed and have more than a 35% disability.

“I feel really lucky to be part of this,” Gloria Bazán told The Guardian. She’s the restaurant’s head of human resources and has cerebral palsy. “It’s difficult to work when society just sees you as someone with a handicap,” Bazán said. “This has given me the opportunity to be independent and to participate like any other human being.”

Alejandro Giménez is a commis chef with Down syndrome.

“It’s given me the chance to become independent doing something I’ve loved since I was a kid,” Giménez told The Guardian.

The restaurant’s momentum isn’t slowing down. Word on the street is Universo Santi has been evaluated by curators from the Michelin Guide, and the restaurant might soon be awarded a star. Seriously, it’s that good!

“People don’t come here because the staff are disabled but because it’s the best restaurant in the area,” Vila told The Guardian. “Whatever reason they came for, the talking is about the food.”

Public opinion seems to back up Vila. According to TripAdvisor, there are only five negative reviews of the restaurant with dozens of others singing its praises. Many of the commenters struggle to believe the restaurant is staffed by employees with disabilities, which might prove an important point.

Our society is so quick to dismiss people who are different. But many people just need to be given a chance to succeed in an environment that will support them and be understanding of differences.

I hope we see more places like Universo Santi crop up in different industries all around the world. Your ability does not determine whether you are fit to work and make a difference. And that’s the message Universo Santi has successfully sent.

Photo credit: Wundervisuals/Getty Images

59 comments

Alea C
Alea C5 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Alea C
Alea C5 hours ago

Back again for butterfly points.

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Teresa W
Teresa W5 hours ago

Diane is right.

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Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

Care2 is still giving commenting points. (I said earlier that Care2 wasn't but I was wrong.

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Alea C
Alea C2 days ago

Care2 is still giving commenting points. (I said earlier that Care2 wasn't but I was wrong.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H2 days ago

thanks

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Diane E
Diane E3 days ago

The rest of the world should take note. Be inclusive.

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Alea C
Alea C4 days ago

Posting for butterfly credits.

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Alea C
Alea C4 days ago

Posting for butterfly credits.

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H4 days ago

thanks

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