Flat Out Tasty

EvansvilleLivingArtisan flatbreads revamp Schlotzsky’s menu

By Emily Patton

One of the hottest trends sweeping restaurants is artisan flatbreads. While similar in appearance to a pizza, flatbread is made without yeast with the dough rolled very thin and baked crispy.

Schlotzsky’s, which has more than 400 franchised and company-owned locations around the world, has joined the craze, revamping its menu to add four varieties of artisan flatbread.

“A lot of people are jumping on this flatbread product right now,” says Meena Mundle, who is a Schlotzsky’s franchise owner with her husband Ashish at 301 N. Green River Road. “I truly believe our product is far superior than others out there.”

Customers can choose from the California Chicken and Avocado, Chicken Chipotle Pesto, Margherita, and Italian Sausage and Basil, which are each served on a wooden pizza paddle and made with fresh ingredients. Each artisan flatbread dish is $7.49.

Mundle says it’s the individualized sauces that set their flatbreads apart from the rest, such as on the California Chicken and Avocado, which has an Andouille white cream sauce with roasted chicken breast, chopped bacon, diced avocado, fresh red bell pepper, cilantro, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and a southwest chipotle mayo.

Another tasty delight is Italian Sausage and Basil topped with the balsamic reduction and thinly sliced Italian sausage, sun-dried tomato pesto, fresh basil, roasted red peppers and tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

“As soon as customers try them, they are coming back on the following day,” says Mundle. “They are absolutely addictive. All your taste buds kind of come alive, as you taste all the different ingredients. It is so different than what we previously offered.”

For more information on Schlotzsky’s, call 812-471-4011 or visit schlotzskys.com/menu/.

Source: Evansville Living

America’s 25 Best Chain Sandwich Shops – Schlotzsky’s Ranks #5

Schlotz_TheOriginal_052510_300dpiThroughout modern history, it’s never been particularly difficult to find a sandwich to eat. Just about every place that sells food will be able to make you one in some form or another, and if worse comes to worst it’s also pretty easy to find bread and something to put inside it. But recently it seems as if a golden age of sandwiches has begun. From “artisan” breads to lavish, gourmet fillings, it’s easier than ever to find a groan-inducingly good sandwich (and hardly anyone would argue against a perfectly composed sandwich being akin to a work of art). Thankfully, many chain sandwich shops are stepping up their game and offering some world-class sandwiches. They deserve to be recognized, so we’re saluting the top 25.

America’s 25 Best Chain Sandwich Shops (Slideshow)

In order to assemble our list, we reached out to the folks who would know best: you. We started with about 65 chains, defining a chain as any shop that has 10 or more locations. Some were national, some were regional. Next we assembled a survey and put it to a vote, asking you to select your favorites. With 1,287 responses collected from all over the country, the results were nothing short of definitive, and surprising.

So what did we learn? For one, quality is key. If you want to attract customers and keep them happy, you not only need to serve a product you can be proud of, but you also need to keep up with the times, make sure your bread and fillings are fresh, and give your customers an experience they’ll enjoy. Next, even the small guys can compete with the mega-chains, because at the end of the day they’re both on the same playing field.

From the little guys who made our list like Atlanta Bread Company and Steak Escape to the behemoths like Subway, and from the entrepreneurs with a grand vision to the old guard trying to cement their legacy, we salute them all. Why? Because the sandwich is quite possibly the greatest food ever invented, and they’re working day in and day out to make sure nobody forgets that.

Click here to see the 25 best sandwich chains in America.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.

Source: The Daily Meal

Schlotzsky’s, Randy Rogers step up to help Cleburne

By Matt Smith

Inspired by Friday’s concert bringing the Randy Rogers Band and friends to town, the Cleburne Schlotzsky’s location, 1216 W. Henderson St., will donate 20 percent of their sales from 2-10 p.m. that same day to the Cleburne Area Relief Fund.

“I told our area manager about the concert and he said, ‘Why don’t we do a fundraiser the same day?’” Cleburne Schlotzsky’s Manager Carol George said. “We donated box lunches after the tornadoes and this provides another way for Schlotzsky’s to better support and be involved in the Cleburne community.”

George said she’s excited about and looking forward to Friday’s concert and added that she thinks it’s a natural fit for Schlotzsky’s to join in and help.

“We’re going to have the musicians coming in and a lot of people from out of town on Friday,” George said. “People here out and about that day so we just want to let everybody know they can stop by, get something to eat and know they’re helping the Cleburne effort, too.”

Concert organizers on Monday said they were thrilled to learn that Schlotzsky’s plans to help out with the effort adding that they plan to stop by the restaurant and fill up on sandwiches.

Rogers, a Cleburne native, organized the concert shortly after tornadoes blew through Cleburne and surrounding areas on May 15. Although the tornadoes resulted in no deaths or serious injuries, they generated major damage throughout neighborhoods in southwest Cleburne and those west of Lake Pat Cleburne. The storms destroyed several homes and several residents remain relocated for the time being while their homes are repaired.

Rogers recently returned home to tour tornado hit areas and characterized the damage as worse than he imagined.

Rogers called upon fellow country musicians Steve Helms, the Amos Moses Band and Sonny Burgess to fill out the benefit show’s lineup.

Money raised by the concert and Schlotzsky’s will go into a relief fund established by the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Donations to the Cleburne Area Relief Fund may be made at any Pinnacle Bank location.

The chamber will continue taking applications for tornado victims through Aug. 15. For information, call 817-645-2455.

Source: Cleburne Times-Review

For concert info visit Concert for Cleburne on Facebook.

Schlotzsky’s Inks Franchise Agreement for 55 New Restaurants Throughout Seven Former Soviet Countries

Schlotzsky’s®, home of The Original® round toasted sandwich and famous Fresh-from-Scratch® buns, recently signed a franchise agreement for 55 restaurants throughout seven of the former Soviet countries, including Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

The master franchise agreement was awarded to Moscow-based entrepreneur Mehmet Akpinar, who plans to open the first restaurant in Moscow. The remaining locations are expected to open over the next 10 years.

“This is a time-tested brand that has the ability to bring people together, from all walks, in their love for Schlotzsky’s sandwiches,” said Akpinar, who currently owns Pegas Touristik, a large tour operator which services Moscow and Antalya, as well as the newly formed Golden International Management Services Ltd. “After looking at the international success of Focus Brands’ restaurants and the available market share for a restaurant like Schlotzsky’s in these countries, it seemed like a natural fit for us. I’m thrilled to open the first location.”

Mike Shattuck, President of Focus Brands International, said this was one of the more significant deals the company has ever signed.

“This is a huge deal for us – we love expanding the Schlotzsky’s brand with entrepreneurs like Mehmet, who understand the complexities, challenges, and rewards of operating a company within their respective country,” he said.

As with domestic growth, further international expansion remains a focal point for Schlotzsky’s in 2013 and beyond. Company plans call for over 30 locations in the next five years.

International Schlotzsky’s franchise locations can currently be found in Azerbaijan, Turkey, and South Africa.

Schlotzsky’s offers more than 15 different sandwiches on its famous unique round freshly-baked buns, as well as gourmet pizzas made with Fresh-from-Scratch crusts, freshly made-to-order tossed salads, and a variety of soups.

Source: Restaurant News

Serving sandwiches for a quarter century

Schlotzsky’s Deli celebrates 25 years in Battle Creek

Written by
Jennifer Bowman
The Enquirer

Schlotzsky’s celebrates 25 years in Battle Creek

Eric Kitchen said he hears it at least three times a week.

“So many people pull off the highway and come here to eat and say, ‘I cannot believe I found a Schlotzsky’s. This is the best sandwich on the planet. Do people in Battle Creek know how lucky they are?’” said the 48-year-old. “We get that a lot.”

This month marks 25 years since Kitchen moved back to his hometown from Oklahoma City to open Schlotzsky’s Deli, a Texas-based sandwich shop. He now operates three locations in Battle Creek — on B Drive North, West Michigan Avenue and South 20th Street — and one in Portage on South Westnedge Avenue.

Not bad for a guy who brought a national franchise restaurant to Michigan for the first time when he was just 23 years old.

“I determined that from the restaurant business,” he said, “to be 100 percent committed, the only way to do it is to start something yourself.”

That commitment is clear through his customer service. Kitchen said it’s difficult to choose what has been most rewarding for him since he began the business. It could be the young locals he employed throughout the years, he said, or catering a funeral to fulfill a man’s request. Once, he said, they hustled all night to prepare to cater a 1,500-person event before realizing they hadn’t figured out a way to transport all the food.

But what comes easy for Kitchen is revealing how he has managed to keep his doors open for decades.

“Business isn’t that complicated,” Kitchen said. “If a customer leaves with a smile on their face, telling themselves they’re going to be back soon, then we’ve done our job.”

General Manager Jim Keating — who Kitchen said has been on the team since day one and also acts as a minority owner — agreed.

“It comes down to taking care of your customer,” he said. “If you take care of your customer — give them great service, give them a great product at a reasonable price — they’re going to come back. It all comes down to customer service. That’s the most important thing, is taking care of the customer and treating them like family. And we do that everyday.”

Schlotzsky’s opened in 1971 in Austin, Texas. It was home to a “single, one-of-a-kind sandwich,” according to its website, and now is an international franchise with locations in 35 states and four countries. Its menu has been expanded to offer salads, soups and pizzas.

Kitchen said being in business in 25 years has made it impossible to escape any economic downturn. A company that once boasted dozens of locations throughout the state, Kitchen is now the only remaining franchise operator. He closed his Marshall location about a year ago when it was decided that the cost of revamping the store and taking care of small children at home was too much.

While they used to have a heavy focus on growth, Kitchen said they’re now looking to provide the best quality of customer service at their current locations.

“I think if you do a darn good job, there’s room in the economy for a business,” he said. “There’s much more competition in town than there was when we first started. But I think more people dine out. I think that’s always skewing upward.”

But what has helped, Keating said, is the duo’s close connection to the community. Both are Lakeview High School graduates and work to help with community and school events on behalf of the business.

“Seeing those kids coming in everyday and supporting them, as well as them supporting us, I think is very important,” he said. “The parents and the families appreciate that as much as we appreciate their business. So you try to help out everybody as much as you can and give back as much as you can, and that’s what helped us grow.”

And there are no plans to stop now.

“We probably have 25 more years in us,” Kitchen said.

Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

Schlotzsky’s franchisee tops new restaurant with upper crust apartments

The 800-square-foot apartments feature crown molding, patios, microwaves and 50-inch flat screen TVs. Schlotzsky’s franchisee David Jones says the project has a Bricktown feel but is in Midwest City’s “Original Mile.”

By Jennifer Palmer

MIDWEST CITY — Schlotzsky’s franchisee David Jones took the company’s motto of “Lotz Better” to heart, adding posh extras to his new location here, including upscale apartments above the restaurant.

The $1.5 million project less than a mile from Tinker Air Force Base’s main gate is part of the city’s effort to revitalize the area known as the “Original Mile,” by providing attractive, mixed-use housing within walking distance to the Town Center Plaza shopping center, the city’s major retail development. It’s the first Schlotzsky’s restaurant to feature housing above.

The restaurant opened in December and construction on the four upstairs apartments should be complete this month, Jones said. The 800-square-foot apartments have a private entrance and will feature crown molding, granite countertops and appliances including microwaves, stackable washer and dryer and 50-inch flat screen TVs. Jones’ son, David, who manages the Midwest City restaurant, will live in one unit and the other three will be rented for $1,000 a month.

“It’s just like downtown Bricktown — in Midwest City,” Jones said.

Amenities continue throughout the restaurant, with a water fountain in the patio area, a media wall with flat-screen TVs and space for laptops in the dining room, tall booths, a cozy fireplace, baby changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms and plates to serve the sandwiches on. Jones said he didn’t want his guests eating out of baskets.

Most stores go above and beyond the Schlotzsky’s corporate model, but each was made to give the restaurant a homey feel because to Jones, Midwest City is home. His father, Kenneth Jones, worked for Tinker for 30 years and David Jones grew up in Midwest City.

Though a career with Pepsi Co. took him to California and Texas, when he decided to open a business his family could be involved in, it was time to come home, he said.

Jones opened his first Schlotzsky’s in Moore in the summer of 2011, which his daughter, Sarah, manages.

“When I was looking for a place to put our second franchise, Midwest City was at the top of the list because it had sentimental value,” David Jones said.

For Schlotzsky’s, it was an opportunity to re-enter Midwest City with an established franchisee, said Amanda Palm, a spokeswoman for Schlotzsky’s, which is based in Austin, Texas.

She said the company allowed Jones some flexibility in designing his restaurant and building, which he owns.

“We knew in looking for sites this was simply a good place for our brand. We wanted to be a part of the redevelopment efforts the city was putting into this particular area,” she said.

In December 2011, Midwest City published its revitalization plan for the Original Mile, a one-square-mile neighborhood defined by SE 15 on the north, SE 29 on the south, Air Depot Boulevard on the west and Midwest Boulevard on the east. Much of the classic, 1940s wartime housing built there was becoming dilapidated and was in desperate need of a face-lift.

Midwest City Mayor Jack Fry said when Jones approached the city with plans for a new Schlotzsky’s restaurant, he pitched the idea of adding a housing element. Jones, who has no experience being a landlord, was the first business owner to take a chance on the city’s vision.

The apartments are within walking or biking distance to the many stores and restaurants at Town Center Plaza and are perfect for somebody looking to live an urban lifestyle, the mayor added.

“It is a bold step for the city. We’re changing a little from suburban America to urban America. It’s time for Midwest City to adopt some of the architectural things going on around the country,” Fry said. “Sometimes, I think we need to think outside the box … and this was a place we could do that.”

Source: The Oklahoman

Vote for the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run T-shirt



Vote now! We have three great designs and we need your help to narrow them down to one! The winning design will be featured on thousands of Bun Run T-shirts. Click HERE to vote!

Want to join in the fun on race day? Head to http://www.bunrun.com for all the details and to get signed up! With a 5K, 10K and Kids’ K, there’s an option for everyone!



Schlotzsky’s will reenter area eatery offerings


By Donnie Bryant donnie.bryant@empiretribune.com

This will be the second store for Schlotzsky’s restaurateur Nelson Olivares who owns another in Brownwood. It is also the third time for the sandwich shop to enter Stephenville city limits. But it doesn’t take long to surmise Olivares’s bid for success will soon make the original Schlotzsky’s sandwich something of a staple in local fast food fare.

A franchise begun in Austin in 1971, the unique spin on the Italian muffuletta earned fierce loyalty from students who swarmed the shop, quickly making it a college favorite. Olivares is certain his close proximity to Tarleton will garner the same devotion from area university sandwich aficionados.

Question: You have made a franchise triad at this store with Schlotzsky’s at the helm and some favored cinnamon rolls and ice cream riding shotgun. What drew you to the three brands?

Answer: “I’ve been doing Schlotzsky’s for 15 years, and this is my second restaurant. It’s familiar to me. This store will have the Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, which are the best, and Carvel ice cream. It’ll be tri-branded.”

Question: This will be the third Schlotzsky’s to open in Stephenville. What do you expect to be the key to making this store a success?

Answer: “Our concept has grown in the last 10 years―since the last one closed. Our menu has evolved. We do offer the Original, which everybody loves, but we also offer a lot of nutritional sandwiches. Society has changed and people are not into the fried foods like they used to be. We don’t fry. We attract the people who don’t want the french fry or the hamburger.

“Our bread is baked daily from scratch. It’s never brought in frozen and then put into an oven. We do pizzas and the ordered salads, fresh when you order them – it’s a higher grade salad with the field greens and things of that nature.”

Question: Your location at the corner of Harbin Drive and Washington Street is the busiest intersection in town. What is your plan to make access to your Schlotzsky’s less challenging?

Answer: “I’ve noticed a lot of the locals have embraced the side door entrance on Harbin that they are really comfortable with. And I also notice the Stephenville traffic is very friendly. They actually let people out and to cross the traffic. But I’m banking on that side back entrance on Harbin.

“I think when the food is good enough, getting there doesn’t tend to bother people. A loyal Schlotzsky’s fan is not going to let the traffic slow him down.”

Source: Empire Tribune

Schlotzsky’s-Cinnabon-Carvel picks location for Galveston

By Laura Elder

The Daily News

The scoop: The suspense is over for island Schlotzsky’s fans. After months of scouting sites, Cynde Whitson has settled on where she’ll open Schlotzsky’s, Carvel Ice Cream and Cinnabon franchises under one roof.

Whitson will open the concepts at 500 Seawall Blvd. in the space formerly occupied by Lasso a Latte Coffee Shop, which closed in February. The space is within the Piazza Blanca Shopping Center. Whitson also plans to lease a secondary space at the shopping center for baking and storage.

Whitson had been in talks to lease space at 1228 Seawall Blvd. that Capital Q BBQ left vacant nearly a year ago. But the issue came down to a drive-through. Benno’s on the Beach is a neighbor and there were worries that a drive-through would eat up too much parking space. The Piazza Blanca site already has a drive-through window.

Schlotzsky’s is known for its sandwiches, pizzas, salads and soups, while Cinnabon is famous for oven-hot cinnamon rolls. Carvel, a 75-year-old name in ice cream, is best known for “Fudgie the Whale” and “Cookie Puss” cakes.

Atlanta-based Focus Brands Inc. is the franchiser and operator of Carvel, Cinnabon and Schlotzsky’s.

Whitson, who owns Schlotzsky’s and Cinnabon franchises in League City and Texas City, is aiming for Dec. 17 opening of the island concepts.

Source: Galveston Daily News

Sustaining Long-Term Employment for Autistic Adults

By Amy AbbotImageMeena and Ashish Mundle have been managing a successful franchise deli for nearly two decades. AtSchlotzky’s Deli in Evansville, Indiana, the Mundles depend on their small staff working as a team, especially at the busiest times. At noon, sales people pick up catered lunches, office workers want a quick, healthy lunch, and some customers need a late breakfast of coffee and a to-die-for cinnamon roll.

With food costs on the rise and a sluggish economy, each link in the chain is incredibly important to this small business. At the busiest times, 12-year employee Shannon is a crucial link in the chain. Shannon, who has autism and limited communication, is responsible for weighing meat and preparing units for individual sandwiches or salads.

More than a decade ago, the local Community Job Link (CJL) approached Schlotsky’s about hiring a person with autism. Part of the Evansville ARC family, Community Job Link is an employment service for people with disabilities. It serves more than 150 people annually, and also partners with more than 50 businesses.

Shannon had never worked outside the factory setting of ARC Industries—a division of Evansville ARC—and wanted a community job, remembers Meena Mundle. “Shannon is possibly our most productive employee, and her employment has been a great success for everyone concerned,” she states.

Developing Long-term Employment

Thousands of people like Shannon on the autism spectrum need and want work. As the American work force ages, society will need them even more. So, are there lessons from Shannon’s employment that can be learned and applied for others?

Cathy Pratt is the director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at Indiana University in Bloomington, and an advocate for people on the autism spectrum. “We have to understand that it is not just about preparing the employee but preparing the employer,” she explains. Pratt notes that employment situations are improving, as companies like WalgreensMarriott and Lowe’s offer opportunities for people with autism. “As a society, we just can’t think of ‘autism’ jobs,” says Pratt. “What skills will we need? And are we building cultures and climates that support our folks?” According to Pratt, the fundamental principles for sustaining successful, long-term employment for autistic adults include early preparation, long-term job coaching, the development of natural supports and coping strategies, and the creation of opportunities for vocational advancement/enhancement.

Early Preparation

All parents worry about a child’s future. But for the parent of a child with autism, there are special fears and questions. Where will he live? Will he be able to work? What are his skills?  What will happen to my child after I’m gone? Pratt believes that advance preparation is the key to a long-term vocational strategy for people with autism.

“What we in education are figuring out is how to guide families earlier for what individuals will need to prepare for long-term work,” notes Pratt. “Generally, we begin to talk about that transition when an individual is 16 or 17.” But this may not be early enough. Pratt explains that early preparation involves not only thinking about vocations, but individual behaviors that can affect a person in the work force. “Parents may want to start thinking even earlier about the behaviors and skills [their] son or daughter needs to function successfully at age 25. Are we excusing behaviors that will limit their options as adults?” Questions to ponder for a young person with autism include:

  • What are his interests?
  • How well can she communicate with others?
  • Is he easily distracted from a task by noises or other people?
  • Can she manage her temper?
  • Does he know boundaries?
  • How well does she adapt to change?

In partnership with Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation, the Indiana University Center is allied withProject Search, which places high school students in employment situations prior to leaving school. Pratt applaudes the efforts of partner businesses. “Corporations have people who are doing a fabulous job finding real work for people in real settings,” she says, citing the example of an autistic adult working for a large hotel chain. Pratt quotes the employer as saying, “I would like to have a hundred of him. He doesn’t get into social chitchat, he learns tasks easily and takes natural cues [regarding] taking breaks and lunch when scheduled, and he is probably more productive than his peers.” Pratt adds, “It is wonderful to see that corporations understand that hiring folks with autism may bring them a really good employee.”

Long-Term Coaching

Work issues for Shannon now are different from when she started at the deli. For Shannon’s first year of employment, her job coach visited weekly and worked closely with Mary Bennett, Shannon’s supervisor. Now employment specialist Barbara Gutiérrez-DeJarnett visits about twice a month. Meena Mundle remembers how important the first year of job coaching was for Shannon. Shannon’s preferences and work styles needed to match the deli’s needs. When Shannon started working, she had limited verbal skills. The job coach worked with the deli staff to better understand her nonverbal cues. Today Shannon is a pro at her job, and the role of her job coach has evolved into more of an advocate.

Teresa Grossi, the director of Indiana University’s Center on Community Living and Careers, describes the job coach as having a vital double role, supporting both the employee and the employer. But Gossi notes that doing the research to create a good job match is essential to long-term success. “The initial functioning level of the employee is probably less important than finding and sustaining a good match,” she says. The employee’s strengths and gifts must be assessed, along with ascertaining the specific needs of the job.

“A job coach becomes an account manager for that employer,” Gossi explains. “The job coach has to understand the language of business and not speak in human service and education jargon with the employer.” Grossi gives an example of an employee who was distracted and stressed with noise in the workplace. The job coach worked with the employer to purchase noise-reducing headphones that solved the problem both for the employer and employee. In another example, Grossi notes that light placement might affect an employee’s sensory challenges and subsequent behaviors. With the teamwork of the employer and the job coach, these issues can be found and resolved.

Natural Supports and Coping Strategies

In addition to on-site accommodations, it is important to consider the specifics of home and community life for adults with autism. About three years after Shannon started at the deli, she moved from a group home into supported community living, sharing an apartment with two other women. Her home environment is relevant to her work situation, as it is with all workers. For example, a change in the apartment such as a new roommate or new support staff member may foster a different mood in Shannon. Does this affect her work performance?  Often supervisor Mary Barker is the first to notice, but can consult Guitierrez-DeJarnett to learn if the home environment is affecting Shannon’s work performance.

Guitierrez-DeJarnett also helps Shannon with personal needs, such as choosing appropriate clothing for work. She considers whether Shannon’s clothing continues to fit well, whether her uniform meets company standards, and if her shoes are too worn for work. While the job coaching role is markedly different from when Shannon started at the deli, Gutiérrez-DeJarnett believes it is critical to sustaining employment and to helping Shannon grow at work. All employees change in their jobs as years pass; Shannon is not an exception.

Pratt sees length and type of job coaching as dependent on individual needs. “We figure out that employment supports are suitable for a person with autism in the work setting. Then the person does OK, and we back off the supports and sometimes things fall apart. For some individuals, having a job coach for the short-term is OK. But for many individuals, having a job coach over time for troubleshooting is good,” she notes.

ImageSchlotzky’s franchisee Meena Mundle credits both job coaches and Shannon’s supervisor for helping Shannon maintain long-term employment. “Mary is always willing to take time with Shannon and provide direction,” she says. “She knows when Shannon is sick or down, and she communicates well with her.”

Vocational Advancement/Enhancement

Over the last decade, Shannon has been given more complex tasks, says Meena Mundle. Her communication skills have improved as well. “My business isn’t here to babysit anybody. Shannon is not on my payroll as fluff. She is a valuable employee, and I cannot afford fluff,” states Meena Mundle. Her husband concurs. “When you are in a franchise situation, everything is about consistency,” adds Ashish Mundle, whom Shannon calls “Meena’s husband” and not by his name. (This anecdote has become a joke between Shannon and Ashish Mundle.) “A difference in ounces on our meat servings can [fiscally] kill you or make you,” he says.

The Mundles agree that Shannon’s precision in weighing and packaging meat is critical to their business. When they moved to a new building a decade ago, the Mundles designed a less-exposed work station for Shannon that helps her focus, away from noise and distraction. Ashish Mundle, a former corporate finance manager, states that Shannon’s presence is essential. “When she’s not here, you can see that some things have not been done, and this is a problem.”

Pratt urges caregivers and employers to set high expectations for persons with autism in the work place. “Sometimes we think persons with autism don’t like change so we insist they do the same thing day in and day out. When negative behaviors occur, this may signal boredom for the person who doesn’t communicate well … Routine and consistency are good, but we need to assure we have novelty and challenges so people don’t lose engagement. A work environment is more than doing the task.”

Grossi adds, “We have a high percentage of folks on the spectrum who are very capable of working more hours, and no one can argue the benefits … Career advancement for persons with autism in the work force depends on several variables. Do the support dollars follow the individual?  Is the job coach checking with the employer regularly? What is the employee’s level of satisfaction and productivity?  Is it time for him to move on or up for career advancement? … We should always be assessing for career enhancement as well as wage enhancement.”

“When we raise our expectations and give people with autism opportunities, the majority of people are able to fulfill these expectations,” Grossi states. “Just because one individual with autism may not be successful, this doesn’t mean others are not going to be successful. This is exactly the same with a typically-developing person. Making an appropriate job match and providing long-term supports is what any individual needs, regardless of ability.” 

Benefits of a Productive Employee

Hiring autistic adults can have far-reaching benefits. For persons with autism and related spectrum disabilities, the benefits include a sense of purpose, meaningful work, socialization, and a paycheck. For the employer, hiring a person with autism may mean getting an incredibly productive worker, someone who does the task given and more, and who often motivates colleagues to increase productivity. For society, the benefits are immense. More workers are needed as the work force ages. An inclusive society benefits everyone with more productive workers. People earning money contribute by purchasing consumer goods and paying taxes.

For employers Meena and Ashish Mundle, owning the deli is part of creating their “American Dream.” In addition, their efforts in hiring and supporting Shannon, mean that her dreams of greater independence can become a reality. And having Shannon in the deli means customers can continue to enjoy the sandwiches they’ve been dreaming of.  Everyone wins.

Source: Autism After 16


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