New York: A man with Down syndrome operates the "world's friendliest restaurant" in Albuquerque, where every customer is offered a hug - free of charge. Tim Harris, 27, is a medal-winning Special Olympian, a sailor, his high school's Homecoming King and a motivational speaker.

The self-proclaimed "world's friendliest restaurant" sits in Albuquerque, New Mexico and serves "breakfast, lunch and hugs" every day of the week. Tim's Place may be the only restaurant in the country owned and operated by someone with Down syndrome, his parents said.

"We were very motivated for Tim to have as normal as life as possible. Our philosophy as a family was to push the envelope as much as we could toward independence, so that one day when my wife and I are no longer in the picture, Tim will be settled and have his own life," the New York Daily News quoted Keith, Tim's father, as telling media.

Restaurateur Harris has doled out more than 32,000 hugs to customers at his eatery. It's been a dream of Harris to own and operate a restaurant since he was 13 and he's let nothing get in his way. Harris is a gold medal-winning Special Olympian, a sailor and fisherman, motivational speaker and, as of 2010, a business owner.

"I love giving all the customers a hug because I want them to feel comfortable and connected and being around friends," Tim told KRQE-TV in an interview.

(Agencies)

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