A Houston waiter who defended a 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome by refusing to serve a patron who spoke disparagingly about the special needs child is being praised as a hero.
Michael Garcia, a waiter at Laurenzo's Prime Rib Restaurant, couldn't control his emotions in early January when he overheard a diner, who moved his own table away from a family with a child who had Down syndrome, saying, "Special needs children need to be special somewhere else,” reported Houston’s KPRC-TV
The derisive remark referred to the Castillo family's son, Milo, who was born with Down syndrome and is a regular at Laurenzo's restaurant.
Garcia recalled the incident and his reaction in an interview with KPRC-TV.
"My personal feelings took over and I told him, 'I'm not going to be able to serve you, sir.'" Garcia continued, "He said, 'If you're not going to be able to serve us, then we'll leave.' Then I told him, 'How could you say that? How could you say that about a beautiful 5-year-old angel?'"
The disrespectful customer then left with his family.
The Castillos were not aware of the exchange until another waiter informed them later.
"I was really impressed that Michael would stand up for Milo. He really doesn't know us … he stood up for Milo just because it was the right thing to do," said Kim Castillo, Milo's mother.
Kim Castillo initially feared Garcia could lose his job over the incident. However, the restaurant's management stood behind Garcia's decision to not serve the disrespectful customer.
Garcia's defense of Milo soon hit local blogs, courtesy of patrons and friends who were impressed by his actions, and the story became a national sensation over the past week, especially on Facebook.
"I just read about your fantastic employee Michael . . . Way to go!!! Stories like this give me so much respect for the individual, as well as the companies that employ them," posted one woman from Canon City, Colo., on Laurenzo’s Facebook page.
Another Facebook user from Norman, Okla., wrote, "Way to go, Michael!! The world needs strong-hearted people like you to speak up for the angels who can't speak for themselves!! When I visit Houston, this restaurant will be my 1st choice!"
Praise for Garcia hasn't been restricted to the Internet.
Candace Roberts, a server at Laurenzo’s, told Time magazine, "The business has just been huge. People are coming in to shake his hand and eat at our restaurant and loving it."
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