Five Guys Burgers and Fries Honored for Hiring People with Disabilities

Krystn Faller photo

Kissimmee, FL – The lobby area of Five Guys Burgers and Fries sparkles and shines as Krystn Faller greets the guests coming into the store. Her boss, Michael Astrologo, is pleased with how well Krystn does her job. “Krystn is very happy to do her job,” Michael says. “She’s always smiling and she loves her job. That’s one thing I really appreciate about Krystn.”

Krystn, who has a developmental disability due to a brain injury, first visited Five Guys Burgers and Fries during a Disability Mentoring Day event, which was a collaboration between the restaurant, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and Bishop Grady Villas, a specialized group home for individuals with developmental disabilities.

She had expressed an interest in working with food or in retail to her Job Coach Desiree Robles. Desiree knew that VR’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) could offer Krystn the opportunity to learn job skills while trying out different types of jobs, so she connected Krystn with VR Counselor Andrew Slackman.

On-the-Job Training is a VR program that gives VR customers the opportunity to work in an actual job site and gain real-world experience. VR pays the employee’s salary during OJT, along with reasonable training costs and any accommodations needed. It’s a win-win situation for both employers and employees.

After trying a couple of different On-the-Job Training opportunities at different employers and a short training at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Krystn determined that she wanted to work at a place like Five Guys. Desiree believes that the OJT was instrumental in Krystn getting the job. “None of it would have been possible without the VR counselors,” she says.

At Five Guys, Krystn works the lobby area, making sure the tables, windows, chairs, counters and condiment station are clean. She refills straws and napkins and interacts with guests, smiling and asking about their day. Michael says that Krystn is just like every other employee, and her disability is not even noticed. “I don’t even really consider it,” he says. “I think she’s a good worker in general.”

In December, Krystn will mark her one-year anniversary as a proud crew member of the Five Guys team, and she is a stand out worker. “I think it’s her positive attitude, despite a number of limitations, that makes her so special,” says Andrew. “And also, she’s just really nice to work with. She does her best.”

Desiree is proud of how well Krystn is doing in her job. “Krystn is very humble and quiet,” she says. “And she has a special way of interacting with people. Krystn will see a child come in, and she will come over and give the child some crayons and a coloring book, or maybe notice that they dropped their bottle, and she’ll pick it up and introduce herself. She has these little subtle moments that make her special.”

Michael agrees, and says he enjoys working with organizations that give opportunities to people with disabilities. He encourages other businesses to give it a try. “I think a lot of people shy away from it only because they don’t really know how it works,” he says. “I’ve worked around people with disabilities for a number of years now, and I’ve always been happy with their performance.”

Five Guys Burgers and Fries of Central Florida was one of nine businesses recently honored as a statewide recipient of the Florida Exceptional Employer Award. This franchise has 16 stores, and they welcome individuals with disabilities as part of their workforce on a regular basis. Thirty-five out of 400 employees have disabilities. In addition, they strongly participate in Disability Mentoring Day each year, and have hosted 100 mentees in their restaurants for DMD.

If your business would like to participate in the On-the-Job Training program, contact your local VR office at (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org for a list of offices near you.

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 111 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,018 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job.