Nightly News   |  March 21, 2013

‘Tim’s Place’ restaurant defies odds

Tim Harris may be the first restaurateur in the nation with Down Syndrome. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight a sweet story to end on, though it concerns a tough line of work. the restaurant business can be a brutal way to make a living. and the story you're about to see concerns one young man's effort to break into that world against some higher than usual odds. his pursuit of a dream is proving an inspiration to his customers. our report from shamblian in albuquerque .

>>> this is my favorite restaurant to go to for breakfast.

>> reporter: the secret is out. in albuquerque the restaurant of the the moment is tim 's place. it's what's not on the menu. the restaurant 's namesake and its owner, tim .

>> oh, yeah.

>> reporter: tim harris may be the first restauranteur in the nation with down's syndrome.

>> thank you for coming into my place today.

>> reporter: it's been the 27-year-old's dream since he was 14.

>> my dad helped me create the restaurant . my mom did all these pictures.

>> reporter: you have a lot of support.

>> i do. a ton of it.

>> reporter: his dad financed it and a manager runs it.

>> our expectation for tim was always exactly the same as it was for his brothers. we decided early on that it was going to be a mistake to treat him any differently.

>> reporter: tim attend add mainstream high school where he was vote d homecoming king . he is also a special olympian. how many medals do you think snuff.

>> way other than the other owe limp ian, michael phelps .

>> reporter: tim 's parents helped him open the restaurant as a way of ensuring their son's independence. but it's tim who makes this place special. describe your job to me here, what you're in charge of.

>> the hugs.

>> reporter: the hugs.

>> i do serve food and drinks, but the hugs. that's the best part.

>> who doesn't like hugs?

>> breakfast is unbelievable. of course you can't beat the hugs.

>> reporter: this is a part of it you'll never see on the check. how do you price a hug? when do you get a hug, what do you get out of a hug?

>> it makes that person feel good and they'll come back again.

>> i see him touch someone's life genuinely every single day. that is meaningful. it's pretty great.

>> if you dream it, you can do it. that's my motto.

>> reporter: did you dream this restaurant ?

>> i dreamed it and i got it.

>> reporter: this restaurant will serve as an inspiration for lots of families.

>> reporter: as for those hugs at tim 's place no one is charging, but they are keeping count. more than 32,000 hugs so far.

>> i love you so much. i'm glad you're here.

>> reporter: i'm glad i'm here, too. janet shamlian , nbc news, albuquerque .