Gilbert, AZ

Local Restaurant, Autism Supporter, Forced to Close

Greyson F
Grab a last sandwich and cookie while you can.Matthew Feeney /Unsplash

There are a handful of businesses around metro Phoenix that go out of their way to help individuals with disabilities. One local restaurant makes sure to do exactly this, by employing at least half of its staff with individuals who have developmental disabilities, including autism. However, many of these hard-working employees will need to start looking for different lines of work as the restaurant recently announced its upcoming closure. 

Not Your Typical Deli, which has been situated in the Gilbert Town Square, has announced that it will be closing its restaurant on May 26. While it will open a small shop in downtown Gilbert later in the summer, it will only be open on the weekend and it will not have the same kind of impact on employing individuals with developmental disabilities as the larger restaurant.

Not Your Typical Deli is both a bakery and delicatessen that also showcases arts and products from local creators. The goal of the restaurant was to both highlight the quality products crafted by individuals in the area, and to also help people who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to the restaurant’s website, in the state of Arizona, the unemployment rate of individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism is nearly 90 percent. The restaurant wanted to do what it could and offer those individuals looking for work the opportunity to have a meaningful career while receiving comprehensive training that qualifies them to work in the restaurant industry. With the provided classes, many individuals gain the necessary skills to not only work inside Not Your Typical Deli, but in other local restaurants and businesses as well. 

The deli is also an award-winning restaurant and bakery that has received recognition from not only local and state publications, but national magazines as well. Travel + Leisure Magazine, for example, listed it as the “Best Place to Get a Sandwich in Arizona”, while Delish awarded it the “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in Arizona.” The East Valley Tribune has given the restaurant several awards over the years, including the “Best Deli/Sandwich Shop in Gilbert” (for both 2018 and 2019), and employee Cordell was recognized as the “Best Server in Gilbert” in both 2017 and 2018.

For anyone who wants to give back one last time to the restaurant, it will remain open through the 26 of May. There is no word yet as to if the training program will continue in its current form, although the staff will be happy to answer any questions you might have during a final visit to the restaurant. 

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