KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – “It’s different, but that’s part of it,” says Emmy’s Frozen Yogurt Owner, Michael McIntyre.
Jodie and Michael McIntyre’s son, Emmy, has autism and got a job at a Menchie’s about four years ago, as the location worked to hire people with differing abilities.
“I mean just so many things happened,” said Emmy’s mom and co-owner of Emmy’s Frozen Yogurt, Jodie McIntyre. “Responsibility, learning about money, being a little bit more social, you know – just really kind of helped him with so many different things. And then they closed.”
While the owner of that franchise was done running the business, the mission of creating jobs for kids with differing abilities was not over yet — in turn offering the business to the McIntyres.
“And we thought we don’t know anything about owning a yogurt shop but there’s clearly a need out there for this thing, so what the heck! We’ll give it a try,” said Michael. “We’ve got this great eclectic mix of employees and you know people kind of walk in the door and get greeted by our eclectic team and they have this, ‘wow there’s something different going on here and it’s really cool’ and the employees have a great time.”
The hope for the McIntyres is to not only provide a sweet experience to their team members, but that other people will see this business in action and be inspired to start their own frozen yogurt shop, in the namesake of the “Emmy” in their life.
“I didn’t even think he would like it, he loved it,” said Jodie. Emmy helps open the store, greet customers and run the register.
Serving up vegan, non-dairy and no sugar options, aiming to provide a naturally inclusive menu for an all-inclusive team.
“You know and all of that was helped by when he worked at Menchie’s – and with that, he learned all about banking and getting a paycheck and being proud of that, and being able to buy his own stuff… so I mean it goes beyond just these little things you do at a yogurt shop,” Jodie said. “It’s not just about doing these jobs in the store – there’s so much more to it than that and I saw it with my son… pride, responsibility, excitement to go to work.”
The McIntyres say they recognize – kids with differing abilities get older, their opportunities begin to shrink. After more than a decade of teaching experience, Jodie is hoping to work with a school system in the near future, specifically West High School and their Work-based Learning Program, to help change that and build an all-inclusive workforce.
Emmy’s Frozen Yogurt is located in Bearden at 124 N Forest Park Blvd, Knoxville, TN 37919. They are open 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday through Monday.