Waiter Michael Garcia made his regular customer Kim Castillo feel like family last week at the Houston restaurant Laurenzo's Prime Rib.
Castillo was eating there with her husband and their 5-year-old son Milo when several waiters came by their table to chat. Milo, who has Down syndrome, has slightly delayed speech. He showed off some new words, while talking about his recent birthday.
The chatter apparently displeased a nearby customer, who, according to NBC affiliate KPRC-TV
, said, "Special needs children need to be special somewhere else."
Once Garcia heard the man's comment, "My personal feelings took over, and I told him, 'I'm not going to be able to serve you, Sir,' " he told the news channel. "[I said], 'How could you say that? How could you say that about a beautiful 5-year-old angel?' "
Castillo, "impressed" with Garcia's actions, says the waiter "put [his] job on the line … to stand up for somebody else."
Calling the man who insulted her son, "ignorant," Castillo adds, "I know Michael [stood up for Milo] from his heart, and from reacting to the situation. I don't think he stopped and thought about what he was doing."
Following the incident, Castillo wrote a blog post
defending her son.
"Was he loud? Maybe a little in the moment, but honestly, the adults at our table were three times louder than he was," she said. "If he had been obnoxious, which like any other 5-year-old he can be, I wouldn't have thought twice about the family asking to move."
Meanwhile the restaurant's Facebook page
has lit up with praise for Garcia and the supportive staff there.
"I am a Father of a special needs child and I applaud you and your employee, Michael Garcia, for standing up to intolerance and helping to educate people who fear the most precious of all children, those with special needs and disabilities," read one post.
He added, "Although I am a resident of California, I work for a [company] headquartered in Texas and am there on occasion for business. I will be sure to drop by and say hello and thank you when in town!"