Archive for October 20th, 2017

We Keep Working

October 20th, 2017 by Global Down Syndrome Foundation

The Ankar Family Of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Has Achieved Their American Dream. Now, The Next Generation Is Using The Secret Of The Family’s Success — A Relentless Work Ethic — To Carry That Dream Forward.

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

Twenty-one-year-old Andrew Ankar, who has Down syndrome, cheerfully shoulders the responsibility of Ankar’s Hoagies, a family restaurant chain serving Middle Eastern and American food started by his late father in 1979. He and his mother, Judy, arrive by 8:15 every morning and don’t leave until 9:30 at night. Andrew works wherever he’s needed, whether it’s manning the grill or greeting customers.

“Burgers are my favorite thing to make,” he said. “I ask how the customers are doing. When it gets really busy, we keep working. All the hard work is worth it.”


As soon as George Ankar, an immigrant from the Palestinian West Bank, opened the first Ankar’s Hoagies 37 years ago, it became a popular local staple and grew entirely by word of mouth — the family has never spent a cent on advertising — to include two locations.

When George lost his battle with cancer in 2015, he left the business to his two  sons. Older brother Alex, a medical school student, has little time to devote to the restaurant and therefore is happy to leave Andrew in charge.

“Dad always said, ‘Take care of your mom and your brother,’” Andrew explained. “I do. I work hard, like Dad. I want to make him proud.”


Earlier this year, a customer complained to the local health department about Andrew’s being allowed to prepare food. Judy was furious. Alex, in a Facebook post defending his brother that was shared 7,000 times, said the complaint “made his blood boil.”

Andrew, however, took it in stride.

“He said, ‘Mom, stop,’” Judy said. “He was telling me to get over it, that it w as no big deal. I thought about not letting the customer back in, but that’s not whatAndrew would do.”

The incident was a reminder that progress never comes easy, but the Ankars won’t stop working for it. “Life has been good,” Judy said. “It’s been hard, but it’s been really good.”


When Andrew was born, Judy Ankar’s grandmother in Jerusalem told her, “We never see things like this. Kids aren’t born that way.” Hearing that, Judy knew she was going to have to fight to overcome entrenched stereotypes and make sure

Andrew had a fair shot in life.

“I never treated Alex and Andrew differently,” Judy said. “I wanted them to know they were equals. Now, they’re not that different. Andrew was a bit slower in learning. Sometimes, though, he could run circles around his brother. I used to joke that Alex is book smart, but Andrew is common sense smart.”

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