Dinner Down Right
By Ben Bartee - January 30, 2024

Originally published via Armageddon Prose:

A few years back, I came up with arguably the most wholesome concept I have ever immaculately conceived, the mere prospect of which, in my mind, buoyed my soul and substantiated my nearly unlimited benevolence.

Here it is:

A restaurant, registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, staffed entirely — under appropriate care and supervision — by individuals with Down syndrome ready and willing to roll up their sleeves for an honest day’s wage (say, $20/hr for kitchen staff and $10/hr plus tips for servers).

At Dinner Down Right, they would make dishes, sourced organically and easy to manage, like:

·       peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

·       bowls of Froot Loops

·       chicken soup (from a can, obviously, not from scratch)

…Stuff like that, with the possibility held open for progressively more challenging menu items as their skills improve, as feasibility and safety permit.

The workers would benefit from self-esteem and real wages, and the patrons would know they were doing the Lord’s work when they selected Dinner Down Right for their Sunday evening meal; everybody is made in God’s image and everybody deserves the opportunity to contribute their talents for the greater good and self-sustainment.

Plus, from a managerial/business perspective, customers would come with minimal expectations in terms of quality of food and service, so the only possible emotion for them to take away is pleasantly surprised satisfaction.

Low expectations exceeded are the cornerstones of contentment.

Everybody wins, and we grow together as humans helping humans.

Now, God, strike me down now if I wasn’t convinced Dinner Down Right was a full-on original stroke of inspiration.

I spilled my guts to my French friend a few years back when I first conceived of the project.

He listened intently.

And then the absolute bastard, after listening to my whole elevator pitch even though he could’ve just nipped it in the bud straightaway, pulled his phone out, showed me Brownies and Downies, and crushed my hopes and dreams.

C’est la vie.

“nihil novi sub sole”
(“nothing new under the sun”)

Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.

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