SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A Schenectady eatery employing individuals with autism that hopes to provide education to the community about the disorder held its grand opening Thursday.
The opening day of Puzzles Bakery and Cafe coincides with World Autism Awareness Day.
The owner of the bakery, 24-year old Sara Mae Hickey and her staff were thrilled to open their doors to the community and provide the public with more than just food.
“I went to Puzzle Bakery. When I went in, I feel like there were more of me in each seat,” said Ian Morreale, a 6-year old Puzzles customer.
Ian, who is living with Asperger’s syndrome, is a perfect example of the kind of customer Puzzles Bakery and Cafe is trying to attract. The eatery hopes to raise autism awareness by providing exposure and understanding of autism spectrum disorders and special needs to the community.
“When I’m there, I feel happy and I feel like I don’t want to leave,” said Ian.
Knowing that Puzzles is a place he can be himself and he can feel at home, his mother feels better about taking him out.
“It takes a lot of stress off taking him out. There’s a lot of places we can’t take him too because they are not accommodating. And to see him happy, that’s a big deal to us,” said Rebecca Seaburg, Ian’s mother.
The owner of the restaurant, Sara Mae Hickey says they definitely have a huge fan base and have so much support in this community. The owner also says her approach is two-fold; not only employing people with autism, but also welcoming those living with the disorder.
“My little catch phrase for Puzzles is ‘Puzzles Bakery and Cafe where everyone fits in,” said Hickey.
Puzzles is located at 515 State St. in Schenectady, where Mayor Gary McCarthy proclaimed April 2, 2015 “Puzzles Bakery and Cafe Day.”