By Srianthi Perera
NYT (Not Your Typical) Deli takes its name from its staff.
About 70 percent of its young adult employees are autistic or have development disabilities.
“Kids with autism have a hard time getting a job because there’s that sigma that they can’t function. And they can,” said Pam DePalma, co-owner and manager. “It’s just once they’ve learned the job, they’ve got it. And they’re probably some of the best employees you would have.
“There’s no drama, they want to be here, they show up on time, for the most part, they’re happy and eager to please, and it’s really a great staff,” she added.
The delicatessen features a good selection of hot and cold chef-designed sandwiches, hot dogs, chop salads and bakery desserts. It’s located in Gilbert Town Square, in the vicinity of the Regal Gilbert Stadium.
The new location has been a blessing, too. It was earlier housed in smaller premises at Val Vista Drive and Baseline Road and moved here in December.
“It’s so much better over here,” DePalma said.
The larger site, which can seat 60 patrons inside and up to 40 outside, has space for One More Bite Bakery and Bergies Coffee Roast House. Plans are being made to add dinner hours during Fridays and the weekend to attract theater patrons.
NYT Deli is owned by Chef W and his wife, Chef Vanessa Luna, as well as Pam and Chuck DePalma, who take care of the business side.
“We were troubled by the fact that there aren’t very many transition programs for kids when they get out of high school if they’re not going to college,” said Pam, whose son, Daniel, is autistic.
Daniel brings food out, buses tables and does dishes in the kitchen.
Although the transition was “a little difficult” for him and for the staff, they adapted in time, Pam said.
“It’s just different way of thinking and processing and we train differently,” she said. Sometimes, it may take saying something differently so that they understand it or it just might be repetition.”
The deli is planning to hire more autistic workers in the future. It’s also working with Square One, a non-profit, which is focused on empowering capable adults with disabilities with unique opportunities.
Currently, the unemployment rate for adults with autism in Arizona is nearly 90 percent.
NYT Deli is located at 1166 S. Gilbert Road, Suite 101, Gilbert. Open hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Details: 480-794-1116, nytdeli.com or write to the management at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit squareonenonprofit.org.