New Naperville restaurant Chez Francois Poutinerie hires people with disabilities

Owner Thi-Tram Nguyen's son, Francois, has autism

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
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Chez Francois Poutinerie hires people with disabilities. The new restaurant brings a taste of Canada to Naperville, IL by serving poutine.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- New restaurants open all the time. But what makes Chez Francois Poutinerie special is much more than what's on the menu.

"I definitely have gone home a couple times in tears over it because it is so heartwarming," Chez Francois Poutinerie supervisor Zoe Koulos said.

The restaurant opened Monday, and brings a taste of Canada to Naperville by serving poutine, the classic dish.

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Chez Francois Poutinerie owner Thi-Tram Nguyen also uses the space to provide employment opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities.

"We wish that there were more businesses wanting to open up their doors like the poutinerie has," School of Expressive Arts and Learning Transition Coordinator Steven Rico said.

For Nguyen, who grew up in Quebec, this is a deeply personal cause.

"Chez Francois means, 'Come to the home of Francois,'" Nguyen said. "And Francois is the name of my son. My son has autism."

She said there needs to be more employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.

"It was a dream in my head and now since yesterday, it's a reality," Nguyen said.

"They just want to be part of the community," Nguyen said. "They want to see people and they want to be recognized as an individual in the community."

"They are no different than anybody else," Rico said. "They just want to be seen. They want to be heard. They want to be included."

Aniket Chanda, 26, appreciates the opportunity. And so does his mom.

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"Every parent, every mom, that is their big dream that their kids are working somewhere," Aniket's mother, Sugata Chanda, said.

Nguyen also created Friends of Francois, a nonprofit to fund their training program for adults with developmental disabilities.

"It was a dream in my head and now since yesterday, it's a reality," she said.