Chili’s recently showed a gesture of goodwill to a little girl with autism when she came with her sister to dine in their restaurant.
It was in 2013 when Anna took her sister Arianna, who was 7 years old, to lunch at Chili’s in their hometown of Midvale, Utah. Arianna had been diagnosed with autism, and as a symptom of her condition, she always liked things to have a certain arrangement every time.
Cheeseburgers had always been one of Arianna’s favorite foods, so she ordered one and was excitedly looking forward to eating it. When the server came with their order, Anna noticed that her sister wasn’t digging into her food, which she thought of as strange, considering it was her favorite.
When Anna asked why, Arianna only said, “It’s broken. I need another one that’s fixed.” Anna looked at the cheeseburger and realized it was cut in half, and thus, her sister looked at it as broken.
She called the server over to their table, ordered another cheeseburger, and explained carefully that Arianna had autism and how she liked things to be of a particular order.
“I told Lauren I knew it sounded silly, but if we could just order an additional one we will gladly pay for it because there was nothing wrong with the one that was originally brought out,” Anna wrote in a Facebook post that has now gone viral.
She didn’t expect the server’s reaction to her undeniably odd request, and it was something that was absolutely incredible and heartwarming.
She went on to share in her Facebook post:
“I want to share the experience that my husband, 7 year old autistic sister, and I had today at the Chili’s location in Midvale, UT. Arianna, my little sister, didn’t waste any time when our waitress, Lauren, greeted us at our table. Arianna promptly ordered her cheeseburger with pickles, french fries, and chocolate milk before Lauren could even take our drink order. Lauren smiled and told Arianna, ‘Okay! I’ll be right back with your chocolate milk!’
“When we got our food I was wondering why Arianna wouldn’t touch her cheeseburger, but was going to town on her french fries. I asked her, ‘Arianna are you going to eat your cheeseburger?’ She calmly said, ‘No, I don’t want it.’ Cheeseburgers, or ‘Krabby Patties’ as we sometimes call them, are her FAVORITE! So this behavior was VERY strange. So I asked her, ‘Why don’t you want it?’ She replied, ‘It’s broken. I need another one that’s fixed.’ Then it dawned on me why she wasn’t eating it. It’s because it was cut in half.
“Being a child with autism, she has to have certain things in a particular order at all times. One slight change in her routine can change the course of the day instantly. When Lauren came back to check on us, I asked if we could order another cheeseburger and just add it to our check. She had a concerned look on her face so I explained that Arianna has autism, and that in her mind, because the cheeseburger was cut in half, she thinks its broken and can’t eat it. I told Lauren I knew it sounded silly, but if we could just order an additional one we will gladly pay for it because there was nothing wrong with the one that was originally brought out.
“Lauren was so sweet and just smiled and went along with Arianna, telling her ‘I brought you a broken cheeseburger?! You know what, I’ll have them cook you a new one!’ I loved this because rather than just taking it from the table, she actually TOLD Arianna what she was doing. While this seems insignificant, by her telling Arianna what she was doing, we avoided a melt down.
“The manager, Bradley Cottermole, then came to our table, kneeled down, and said to Arianna, ‘I heard we gave you a broken cheeseburger! I am so sorry about that! We are making you a brand new one that isn’t broken, with pickles! I’ll bring you some french fries to munch on while you’re waiting, ok?’
“A couple of minutes later, Lauren arrived back at our table with cheeseburger #2. Arianna said, ‘OH FANK YOU! You fixded my cheeseburger!’ When Lauren walked away, Arianna just sat there for a second and looked at her new burger. She looked like so deep in thought….just staring at it….then she let out a big ‘OH I missed you!!’ and started kissing the burger over and over again.
“I showed Lauren this picture and said, ‘I think we glorified the cheeseburger too much!’ She busted up laughing, and asked if she could go show her manager. She came back a minute later and said she showed everyone in the back kitchen area too, and that it made them all laugh and smile. I was so touched by this experience. Especially since I know people who have been asked to leave restaurants when their child with autism is being disruptive.”
Thanks to the understanding and kind hearts of Lauren, the considerate server, and the manager and the rest of the staff at Chili’s in Midvale, Utah, Anna and her sister Arianna had a wonderful and unforgettable dining experience at Chili’s.