Not Your Typical Deli launches movement to give adults living with autism a chance

Not Your Typical Deli launches movement to give adults living with autism a chance

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Gilbert deli hires adults with disabilities. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Gilbert deli hires adults with disabilities. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Not Your Typical Deli, Gilbert Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Not Your Typical Deli, Gilbert Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Cordell Sherwood, 21, was Rieth first employee. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Cordell Sherwood, 21, was Rieth first employee. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Chef W Rieth, owner of Not Your Typical Deli. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Chef W Rieth, owner of Not Your Typical Deli. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
Rieth recently launched a #NotYourTypicalGilbert social media campaign. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Rieth recently launched a #NotYourTypicalGilbert social media campaign. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Valley restaurant dedicated to hiring adults living with autism or developmental disabilities is leading the movement to encourage other local businesses to do the same.

It'll be two years next month since chef W. Rieth opened up Not Your Typical Deli, located at 1166 S Gilbert Rd #101, in Gilbert. 

Research shows the unemployment rate for people living with autism or developmental disabilities is up to 90 percent and it's often tough for them to get hired or keep a job.

Rieth wants to change that.

"(I want to) set an example showing that a town will come together to start pushing an initiative and spreading awareness on equal rights in the workforce," said Rieth. "A lot of people on the spectrum thrive with repetition and that’s a key to success in our kitchens you want it to be the same every time."

Rieth recently launched a #NotYourTypicalGilbert social media campaign, calling on other businesses and community members to join the movement and spread the message. So far, in the Town of Gilbert about a dozen businesses have signed up, but Rieth would like to see more join in.

Supporters are encouraged to come up with their own hashtag and share to social media. The idea behind it is to showcase that nobody is typical... everyone is different.

Seventy percent of Rieth's staff has special needs.

Cordell Sherwood, 21, was Rieth's first employee. He's responsible for taking orders, making sure supplies are stocked, and customers are happy. He also has Asperger Syndrome and is on the high-functioning end of the spectrum scale.

"For me specifically, I suffered with a lot of social issues," said Sherwood. "I wasn’t able to read people very well, I wouldn’t be able to understand how people worked or how their emotions worked."

Since working with Rieth, Sherwood's skills have improved greatly. It took a lot of patience, but there's a big payoff.

"He won best server in Gilbert in the second year in a row… like.. this is a kid with autism who beat all the odds and couldn’t find a job anywhere," said Rieth. "He has come so far."

The job has helped him move out of his parents' house and live independently.

"I love my job!" exclaimed Sherwood.

"A lot of times, it’s the higher-functioning kids that [sic] fall through the cracks because there’s [sic] not services for them from high school to adulthood," said Rieth. "To me, that’s terrifying and I wanted to make a difference in that and set the example and maybe set the bar for people in the industry to start doing things differently."

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Maria HechanovaMaria’s last name is pronounced HETCH-UH-NO-VAH. She joined the 3TV/CBS 5 News team in July 2017, but is no stranger to Arizona.

Click to learn more about Maria.

Maria Hechanova

Prior to moving to Phoenix, she spent four years in Tucson reporting for KOLD News 13 and KMSB FOX 11 covering wildfires, VA transportation issues, and Southern Arizona's largest school district.

Before that, she worked for WLNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan where she learned a lot about the auto industry and almost never took off her parka.

Maria also reported in Yuma where she had the incredible opportunity to fly with the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels and cover countless military homecomings.

She got her start at KPHO in 2008 as a college intern and is happy to be back and working with professionals who helped shape her career.

Shortly after college, Maria landed an internship with the TODAY Show in New York City thanks to the help of the Asian American Journalists Association.

She graduated from Northern Arizona University where she was also a member of the women's swimming and diving team.

Maria grew up in the Valley and went to Ironwood High School in Glendale.

When not reporting the news, she’s hunting for the best carne asada tacos or bowl of pho, swimming laps, or hanging out with her USMC veteran husband and rescued Shih Tzu.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you also can find Maria at @MariaHechanovaTV on Instagram.

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