Derek Gonzalez named his first restaurant, Pilo’s Street Tacos, after his beloved aunt. Pilo had Down Syndrome, but Gonzalez remembers how “she embodied so much love and life,” rather than focusing on her disability. To honor Pilo and others like her, he launched the Goat Hospitality Group, whose mission is to hire, train, and employ people with physical and mental disabilities—or “special abilities,” as Gonzalez calls them. Leveraging his experience in the financial sector, Gonzalez opened four restaurants in Miami, Florida, with two more to follow later this year. These establishments include everything from a laid-back Mexican street food spot to a vibrant LGBT nightclub.
Gonzalez invites diners to join a “party with a purpose,” claiming that his restaurants help people with disabilities “achieve their dreams, increase their independence, and [find] companionship.” To that end, the Goat Hospitality group is currently in the process of opening two new restaurants by the end of the year: MIA and LunaSol. The latter will be a rooftop lounge; the former is still a bit of a mystery.
“Other venues can help shatter the disability employment gap,” Gonzalez told Worth. He highlighted Gigi’s Playhouse, which provides resources for individuals with Down Syndrome, and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), which advocates for people with physical disabilities.