This partnership allows students with autism spectrum disorder to gain work experience.
Originally published Jan. 12, 2015
The Quiznos Sub Sandwich Restaurant at Texas Tech University is more than just a quick lunch stop. It represents a unique partnership between a higher education institution and a corporation and is aimed at providing work experience for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Texas Tech officials cut the ribbon on the new sandwich shop in January. The College of Education's Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research collaborated with Texas Tech's Hospitality Services and Quiznos to bring the sandwich shop to the Burkhart Center building at 18th Street and Flint Avenue on the Texas Tech campus. Hospitality Services staffers manage the restaurant, but most of the line employees are Burkhart students, all of whom fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.
Janice Magness, the director of the Burkhart Center's Transition Academy, said she wanted to include a coffee shop in the new building, which would give students a place to work where faculty and coaches could be close by and help as needed. When she approached Hospitality Services about the idea, it got bigger.
Hospitality Services managing director Kirk Rodriguez said after talking with Magness, they wanted to provide something more expansive than a coffee shop, because the coffee shop would only provide very limited work experience to the students and also would make turning a profit, or at least breaking even, difficult. At that point he reached out to Quiznos, which already had a store on campus, and the corporate leadership liked the concept as well.
After a bid process, construction began on the new restaurant. More than a year later, it's ready to go.
“This new Quiznos demonstrates the continued partnership and a commitment to education between Hospitality Services and the Burkhart Center,” Rodriguez said. “This outlet will not only serve the campus community, but will also provide individuals with autism the needed skills to better themselves in a real-world working environment.”
Students are already doing internships at Goodwill, the Student Union, the Garrison Center and a few other places in Lubbock and on campus. This is the first food service employer and is a good option for those students who want to work in restaurants after graduation, Magness said.
“We are honored to work alongside the Burkhart Center and Texas Tech University to launch this unique and important program,” Quiznos Chief Development Officer Kenneth Cutshaw said. “The new Quiznos location will not only serve as a real-world learning lab for Burkhart Center students but will also continue to nurture the Lubbock community and those who live and work here.”
The restaurant is the latest addition to the Burkhart Center's building, which opened in November 2013 and is full of classrooms, offices, a gym, a model apartment and observation rooms. For seven hours each day, the building is home to a dozen young adults who have autism spectrum disorder. They are students in the Transition Academy, a premier center in the region for research, education and assistance for families affected by autism.
The Burkhart Center was established in 2005 and is named for Jim and Jere Lynn Burkhart, who have made significant contributions to the establishment and mission of the center. The Transition Academy, the center's flagship program, is for 18- to 30-year-olds who have graduated from high school. Students learn job, life and social skills; the goal is to help students live and work independently.
This Quiznos will accept dining plans and is the first Quiznos on campus to serve breakfast. It is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.