Tim's Place restaurant takes unique approach thanks to special owner

(CBS News) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sunday is Father's Day, which celebrates the special bond between a father and his son. We went "On the Road" to meet a father who couldn't be prouder, and a son who couldn't be more thankful.

When Keith Harris' son Tim was born, a half-hearted smile was all he could muster.

"Our pediatrician asked me if I knew what down syndrome was, and the world turned black at that moment," he told CBS News.

What a difference 26 years makes. Today, in sunny Albuquerque, you'd be hard pressed to find a more glowing father than Keith. Or a more shining example of what truly great parenting can accomplish.

Keith and wife Jeannie, who also have three typical boys, have raised them all with the same high-expectations. As a result, they're all successful. But, none are more successful than Tim, who not only lives on his own but owns his own restaurant.

"He works for me," Tim said, pointing at his brother.

In fact, as far as we know, Tim is the only person with Down syndrome in the country who owns a restaurant.

"Hi! Welcome to my place," he said enthusiastically as he greeted customers.

"All of us who are dads want our kids to wind up independent, happy, secure," Keith explained.

Tim's dad -- a small business owner himself -- provided the initial investment. Other people do the managing and cooking, but Tim is the front man and the genius behind it.

Tim realized that what people really want from a family restaurant is a family feel. That's why here, love isn't just in the air: It's a menu item. You can actually order a free hug from Tim. And even if you don't order it, chances are you'll still get one. Hugs are simply his measure of success: He's given out almost 19,000 hugs. He keeps track of them all on a hug counter.

Of course, profits are adding up too. Tim even has expansion plans. Yet no matter how big he gets, Tim says he will always be indebted to the man gave him his first hug.

"He's my super hero and my inspiration," he said about his father.

"We're happy for you," Keith told his son.

"Thank you Dad," Tim replied.

I don't think any one of us can imagine the time and tears that went into this moment right here -- that made it possible for Keith and Jeannie to walk away from their son and know that he will be alright with or without them. Only Tim knows that, which is why this Father's Day no father in America will be any more appreciated than his.

"I love my dad so much," Tim said.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, e-mail us.

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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