Brandon’s Pancake House And Ice Cream Parlor Is Designed For Children With Autism, Other Disabilities

By: Morgan Reitzel, Follow South Jersey Intern

Brandon’s Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor is a welcoming destination for people with autism and other disabilities. Photo credit: Brandon’s Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor Facebook page.

WILDWOOD CREST, N.J. – Owners and parents, Aimee and Karl Famiano, opened a breakfast and lunch restaurant called Brandon’s Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor in Wildwood Crest to become a welcoming dining destination for people with autism and other disabilities in April 2023. 

The two owners drew up the inspiration for this restaurant because of their own family’s experiences. They have an autistic-non verbal son named Brandon who was often overlooked and left out when dining out. Hoping to make the restaurant Brandon’s “forever place,” the parents decided it was time to help their son and other families with disabilities have an unique dining experience specifically made to make them welcomed, seen, and heard, so they took over the restaurant.

“Servers wouldn’t give him a menu because they would assume that he couldn’t read,” Aimee Famiano said. “And the look on his face because of the lack of inclusion and compassion…to be at a table with a bunch of people and you not being looked at, you being overlooked.”

The restaurant does not only serve delicious food, but has tons of accommodations for the disabled. 

One of the accommodations at this restaurant is that there are two types of menus given out. One menu is a regular menu that would be found at any restaurant that includes their breakfast, lunch, and dessert options, but the other menu is a laminated picture menu. These special menus have all the breakfast, lunch and dessert options but with pictures so nonverbal people can point or circle an item with a dry erase marker. 

There is a basket full of sensory friendly toys for customers to fidget and play with while they wait for their food or to be seated. Also, if the restaurant gets too loud, guests can order noise canceling headphones to block out the noise around them. Additionally, customers can write their names on autism awareness puzzle pieces when they walk in. 

The trained staff is advised to make small gestures such as demonstrating patience and making direct eye contact while serving guests will further the disabled friendly restaurant and make the patrons feel genuinely welcomed and at ease. 

Brandon’s Pancake House also wants to hire high school students with autism and other disabilities to gain work, life and culinary experiences. Surrounding schools have asked if they were able to bring students to the restaurant for field trips. 

Since the restaurant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Brandon’s Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor has been very busy and has received a warm response from the community. 

Brandon’s Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor located on 6200 New Jersey Ave in Wildwood Crest.

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