thank you, uno’s

~

Ed (very long) note: I feel like a lifetime has passed since I wrote the following post, since so darn much has happened since last week. But I need to share this with you. It’s about dinner with Jeni and her brother, Alex and the kids following the dedication of the Wii Cart on Friday night. Three magical things happened that night — the first you’ve already read about, of course, but there were two more. and the first of those started with nothing but a phone call.Β 

24_logo

We live two hours apart. There was no way that we weren’t going to take advantage of our time together and have dinner after the ribbon cutting. But that was going to be easier said than done. We’d be a group of ten. On a Friday night. At prime dinner hour. Walking into a restaurant on Hospital Row and hoping for the best just wasn’t a viable option with this crew.

I called a Pizzeria Uno that I knew was just outside the city. It would be easy off and back on the Mass Pike for Jeni and the kids. It would be a little less crazy to find and park at. The bar scene would likely be a little more subdued. It seemed like the best option.

The conversation went something like this …

“Pizzeria Uno, Rebecca speaking.”

“Hi, Rebecca, I’d like to make a reservation for ten people for tonight at 6:45 please.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, but we don’t take reservations. But we do have a call-ahead program, so just give us a call when you’re on your way and if there’s a waiting list, we’ll put your name on the list for you.”

She was friendly as could be, but after the night we were about to have, putting our name on the list wasn’t going to help.

“Oh, I, um .. okay … um .., here’s the thing, we’ve got two autistic kids in the group and waiting might be really difficult. Is there any way that I can give you a credit card and we could leave a deposit or something to secure the table?”

“Oh. Can you give me just a moment?”

“Of course.”

I anticipated a wait. We all know what ‘just a moment’ can mean. But approximately thirty seconds later she came back on the line.

“Hi, there. Okay, so we don’t take deposits on tables, but I’ve set aside a table for you for ten people at 6:45. I put it in the upper section of the restaurant, so it will be quieter than in the main dining area, but it does still have a few other tables around it, is that okay?”

Me, stuttering …

“I ..um .. I … oh my gosh, of course, thank you.”

“Do you need gluten-free menus for the kids?”

Me, still stuttering …

“I .. um .. my little one doesn’t and I … Well, I don’t think .. well, no. I don’t think so. Oh my gosh, thank you.”

A reservation in a place that doesn’t take them. A quiet table, away from the chaos of the dining room. A gluten-free menu. Small things that are not small to families like ours. Rebecca’s voice snapped me out of my revery.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t have an immediate answer for you; I just had to check our availability because we have an event tonight and I just had to be sure that we could make this work.”

The dam broke and the words tumbled out, spilling on top of one another before I could stop them …

“Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I am so incredibly grateful that you’re doing this. It means so much more than you think it does and .. and … well, I just have to tell you, the reason that we are customers in the first place is because you guys are so incredibly generous donating all the food every year to the Boston Autism Walk and so, years ago, after our very first walk when we saw how supportive y’all had been, we wanted to thank you so we took our team to you guys for lunch as a way to thank THEM and well, we’ve been doing it ever since and now it’s tradition and well, then the kids fell in love with your Make Your Own Pizzas and all week, since we told the little one that we’d be coming to Uno’s tonight she’s been walking around pretending to be Max from Max and Ruby saying “Uno’s. Unos’. Uno’s,” and well, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you doing this for us.”

I’m not sure which one of us choked up first.

But the circular gratitude and the not small at all small things was more than I could bear.

When we hung up the phone, I did the only thing that I could think to do.

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 11.31.20 AM

And wouldn’t you know it? They wrote back. Because that’s what companies who care do.

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 11.31.28 AM

Our children – our families – face challenges every day. Eating dinner out is among them. It’s not an easy thing to do, on a lot of levels.

But when someone gets it – and makes accommodations that show that they really, really get it, it means something. It means far more than identifying a puzzle piece or the color blue with autism. It means recognizing autistic people, viewing them as guests, and going the extra mile to make those guests feel welcome.

And to families like mine, that’s not just something; it’s everything.

Thank you Rebecca and Uno’s management. We’ll be back to make our own pizzas again very, very soon.

~

Ed other note: I have absolutely no connection to Uno’s, nor do I receive any kind of direct nor indirect compensation from them. I simply highlight companies who do right by our families, and they are clearly among them.Β 

23 thoughts on “thank you, uno’s

  1. Love this! What a terrific story. And to be truly welcomed, after what I’m sure was a long and emotional night, well that is more than awesome.

    (And yes, I read your post… Of course! Can’t speak to whether this will effect the space-time continuum though. Lol!)

  2. I love this story. They just cancelled school for tomorrow so I think I’ll bring my boys there for lunch. They’ve never been- I think it is time I bring them.

  3. Now, I’m choked up, as well. We have enjoyed Uno’s after each Boston Autism Walk and will continue to do so. It’s always fun watching Katie and Brooke making their pizzas.

    Love you,
    Mom

  4. Stan, the ironyhere is that you failed to make mention of the group that was also have a special event there on a Friday night. (Why are they any less deserving of your disdain?) The fact is, people call restaurants and ask for special treatment all the time. The guy who wants a special table or special dessert (or whatever) so he can propose to his girlfriend; the couple celebrating their 57th anniversary who want to sit in the same spot they sat in when he proposed; the couple with the newborn, etc, etc, etc. This post isn’t about one person, Jess, asking for special treatment; it’s a post about one company, UNO’s, giving stellar service to ALL its patrons.

  5. Requesting is not the same as demanding. Asking a restaurant if they can accommodate your special needs is appropriate. If the reply had been “No, we don’t tweak our policies to meet the needs of individual customers.”- I would be pissed. But if the reply had been “No, we have another event scheduled and we will not be able to meet your needs while still honoring our commitments we have already made to other customers.”- that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I expect reasonable accomodations for my family and everyone else. That does not mean we should always get what we want or need regardless of the needs of others. Unreasonable expectations would be showing up at a restaurant with a long wait and insisting that you cannot wait your turn. Calling ahead to discuss if your needs can be met is what you have to do with some kids.

  6. Thanks for the tip, I’ll be sure to throw Pizza Uno my business in the near future. And to all of those who don’t quite get it yet, it’s my dream that you someday will!!

  7. Our family loves Uno’s – mostly because the pizza is awesome, the one we go to is relatively quiet, and most importantly the service is consistently excellent. When we want to celebrate something, but know our three autistic children won’t be able to deal with the wait, we call our order in ahead, as we are driving there. They always seat us immediately and there is no wait for the pizza. That’s not “demanding” special treatment – that is just their own pure awesomeness and good business sense – we return often because of it.

  8. I love love love Uno’s for their GF menu being celiac but now especially knowing that they were able to show true customer service and compassion. It’s perfectly fine for them to have said no but wonderful that they were willing to put a little extra effort into accommodating a guest. It’s not about fairness. It’s about truly providing a service to their patrons. Now, if only Uno’s would come back to my area of Pittsburgh πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s