Bojangles' Manager Gives Teen w/ Autism a Chance. Few Weeks After Hiring Him, He Knows...


Anthony Smith remembers the first time he laid eyes on new employee Gabe Bowen. It was Smith’s first day as manager of a Bojangles’ restaurant location in Arden, North Carolina.

Gabe, a high school junior, has autism. “I was told that this kid could only sweep the parking lot and clean tables,” Smith recalled, words other employees had offered because of Gabe’s autism.

Gabe had only been with the restaurant chain for a few months, and was described as “very introverted” and easily panicked.

But Smith just didn’t feel right keeping the teenager quietly working behind the scenes, as the shy boy appeared willing to take on more responsibility.

“That didn’t sit well with me,” Smith said of confining Gabe to cleanup duty. “I could see the eagerness to learn in his eyes and he told me one day that he could do it.”

Megachurch Pastor Steps Down, Becomes Just Another Member of the Congregation: 'I Will Be a Worshiper Like You'

Smith recalled one particular day when an employee left work early. Without a word, Gabe put on the headphones and began taking customer’s orders.

“I never asked him to do it,” a proud Smith said. “He showed great initiative.”

Watching the teen work, an impressed Smith told Gabe he was now a part of the drive-thru team.

Smith recalled how Gabe exploded with excitement, running back behind the counter with a newfound confidence and eagerness.

Smith took to social media to praise Gabe for working so hard and progressing so quickly. “I placed him on my front register (never short), and today he’s running my drive-thru!” Smith exclaimed.

“I’m so proud of him and how he’s opening up!” Smith wrote. The teen who once spent his shift in an anxious, quiet state, is now managing orders like a pro, under Smith’s mentorship.

Gabe’s parents were delighted, thanking Smith for taking a chance on their son. As Gabe’s story gains more attention, Smith reported many others are asking to work on their team.

Watch: Dolly Parton Grants Dying Man's Bucket List Wish at Christmas

“Never limit those with the potential to be unlimited,” Smith wrote in conclusion. “Go Gabe! My dude!”

Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best uplifting stories here.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , ,
A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
Page, Arizona
Bachelor of Science in Music Education
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Lifestyle & Human Interest