HOUSTON, Texas (CNN/KTRK) — A waiter at a restaurant near downtown Houston took a stand for a special needs child. Now support is flowing in from all over, thanking the waiter and the restaurant, Laurenzo’s on Washington.
According to KTRK, the waiter, Michael Garcia, has been working at the restaurant for about two years, and the family members at the heart of the story have been regular customers about the same length of time.
On the night of Jan. 16, Garcia greeted two groups of regulars — Kim Castillo and her family, and another group who sat in the adjacent booth.
“We were sitting there and all of a sudden I noticed that the family across from us got up and moved to the back of the restaurant,” Castillo said. “I thought, I wonder if they’re moving because of us?”
The Castillo group included five-year-old Milo, who has Down syndrome. But neither Milo’s mom Kim nor Garcia could have imagined why the other family moved.
“I didn’t think much of it at first,” Garcia said. “That was until I heard one man in the party say, ‘Special needs children need to be special somewhere else.'”
After hearing that, Garcia reacted.
“It was very disturbing,” he said. It upset me because here’s a 5-year-old little boy. He’s an angel. He’s precious. … My personal feelings just took over and I told this man, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t serve you.'”
That family quickly left. Later in the evening, the Castillo family found out that their waiter had stood up for their son.
“I was just so impressed and felt so good that somebody would stand up for another human being,” Castillo said.
Since then, support of Garcia’s decision, which was also backed by his employer, has poured in. It’s come from regular customers and a whole host of touched readers online.
“I think he did the right thing,” customer Bill Baker said. “The customer isn’t always right. Sometimes they need to be shown the the door.”
And most of all, Garcia learned the thanks of a grateful Castillo family.
“He’s good in our book,” Castillo said.
Garcia says if the other customers return, he will serve them just like anyone else. As for the Castillo family, they plan to remain loyal customers.