Andrew Ankar, who was born with Down syndrome, is a model restaurant owner. “He works open to close, all day every day from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” Andrew’s mother Judy tells Us Weekly. “He knows his customers by name and treats all of them like family. People come in looking for Andrew! If they don’t see him, they ask, ‘Where is he?’”
The 20-year-old became a co-owner of Ankar’s Hoagies in Chattanooga, Tennessee, after his father, George, passed away in April from esophageal cancer. “I love working,” Andrew tells Us. “I love the people that work here, and I like doing like daddy did at the shop. I like to make grilled chicken on the grill.”
So Judy was enraged when someone filed a complaint with the health department claiming there were unauthorized personnel in the kitchen. And Andrew’s brother, Alex — who is a student at Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City, Tennessee — felt the same way.
“When I learned that someone had the audacity to file a report with the local health inspector over an adult with Down syndrome being in the kitchen of a restaurant that he is not just employed at, but that he owns, I was floored,” Alex wrote in a lengthy May 5 Facebook post that has since gone viral. “It makes my blood boil that there are people in this world who don’t have an ounce of kindness in their heart to appreciate what an amazing person he is. The fact that there are people out there in this world that view people with disabilities as sub-human disgusts me.”
Judy echoed the sentiment to Us. “Andrew is the purest of pure,” she gushes. “He knows no hate. He is what God intended the world to be, perfect in every way. The only thing he wants out of life is to drive a fast car with two pedals and two steering wheels and to have a black iPhone! How would life be if we all lived like Andrew?”
Billy Ulmer, the acting public information officer for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, told the Times Free Press, “The inspector’s findings were there were no violations. So that’s pretty much the end for us.”
Meanwhile, Andrew continues to carry on his dad’s legacy, working 13-hour shifts at Ankar’s Hoagies. “George was Andrew’s hero,” explains Judy. “He wanted to be just like him in every way. He would go at night after school and stay and close the shop with him. He dressed just like him by wearing the same color T-shirt with jeans. He has his dad’s work ethic. Everything has to be done right.”
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