DENVER (CBS4)– A new pizza restaurant in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood is hoping its unique business model will be a source of pride for its employees. Pizzability, started by a former special education teacher, provides job training for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

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Founder Tiffany Fixter, created the Brewability Lab in east Denver 3 years ago but wanted to find even more opportunities for adults with IDD.

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“I had a huge waiting list. I mean I only have six staff at the brewery and I couldn’t really have any more, so I just wanted to find another outlet.”

Tiffany Fixter (credit: CBS)

Laradon Hall, which offers programs for adults and children with IDD, knows how difficult it can be for adults with IDD to find employment. At the end of November 2018, it struck a partnership with Pizzability and the new hires got to work.

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“I always come in smile and people are very friendly!” said a cheery Rachel Kurth.

Rachel Kurth (credit: CBS)

Every Thursday and Friday, Kurth heads to Pizzability, located at 250 Steele Street in Denver, with a handful of other adults from Laradon.

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Fixter has made a few upgrades so employees with a wide array of disabilities can get the support they need.

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“We turned my office into a sensory room so if they do need a break or I see that they’re overwhelmed, they have that outlet to go calm down and then refocus and get back to work.”

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The back of the house also has visual list employees use to get ready for their shift.

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“We do have a ‘ready to work’ checklist which just helps them be more independent and focus on the fact that they are ready for work.”

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The entire restaurant is built to serve people with a wide array of disabilities.

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“I think that some families that have children with special needs don’t feel like they can go out to eat and they’re worried that maybe they’ll have a meltdown or they’ll be looked at and that’s not the case here,” Fixter continued, “We’ll cut up their food or blend it if they need to and we just have something for everybody. If you have an aging parent, we have weighted silverware. We just want everyone to feel welcome.”

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From adaptive utensils to noise canceling headphones to brail on soda machines, Pizzaibilty aims to serve all abilities.

For Laradon, it’s another much needed step toward the schools mission.

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“Laradon is very proud to be on the Pizzability team,” said Calena Camacho, Laradon Program Manager, “Businesses like this keep Denver on the path to greater inclusion of people with disabilities.”

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Jamie Leary

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