“Serving Hot Food and Warm Hugs.” That’s the title of Jeff Truesdell’s article about an extraordinary restaurateur, in the May 21 edition of People magazine. Flip to the “Heroes Among Us” section and you’ll see the same smiling face that greeted a group of us from Special Olympics who stopped by his restaurant earlier this year.
Those outside of the Special Olympics New Mexico family became instant Tim Harris fans at “Tim’s Place,” his restaurant in Albuquerque, NM, when Tim and his staff hosted a dinner for the attendees of the annual Special Olympics U.S. Business Meeting this past February.
Many things made the night great: delicious Tex–Mex food, the fellowship of Special Olympics leaders from throughout the country…but it was our host, the restaurant’s owner, Tim, that made it unforgettable.
Tim Harris is a Special Olympics New Mexico athlete and Global Messenger. He is also the owner of “Tim’s Place” which provides “the friendliest service in the world” and serves “Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs.”
Tim addressed the packed house and said “from the minute I was born, I always wanted to be a part of the world around me.” He joined Special Olympics in his youth and would go on to participate in several sports, including poly hockey, basketball, track and field and more. He also attended college and received his degree, with a focus in restaurant operations.
He lives independently, just a couple minute’s walk from his restaurant. Many of his Special Olympics medals and awards adorn the walls and his high school varsity jacket, with the letter he earned for Special Olympics, is proudly on display.
Tim doesn’t charge extra for the hugs and, as he said “most customers order at least one, sometimes two” – he has a counter on the wall to track his hugs – over 16,000 to date and he got plenty more that night.
When he began his speech he told the crowd “every time I say “Oh Yeah!’ you say “Oh Yeah!” with a fist of victory thrown proudly up in the air. Needless to say, there were many “Oh Yeah’s!” from the group as Tim shared his story and journey with us – he had the entire restaurant on its feet at the end of his speech.
He was particularly thrilled that the “other Tim” (Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics) was in attendance and presented Shriver with a couple small gifts and two hugs: one for him, one for his Mom (Eunice Kennedy Shriver).
Tim is as welcoming, charismatic and hospitable a restaurateur and host as can be, and a remarkable testament to what our athletes can achieve.
So if you ever find yourself in Albuquerque, stop by Tim’s Place: grab some great food, a warm hug (or two), and giant helping of inspiration!