When Dallas’ Tom Landis opened Howdy Homemade Dec. 26, he had a unique pillar at the center of his business model: he would hire adults with special needs to create his homemade ice cream and serve his customers. He would provide, not just a paycheck, but a purpose, along with a community of coworkers and a sense of accomplishment.
Employee Brandt Urban, a Lake Highlands High School graduate in 2014, is proud of his work at Howdy and is anxious to welcome you into “his” store.
“The best thing about working at Howdy is having fun and seeing people,” he says. “And helping the customers.”
The hardest part? “Nothing.”
In the video, you can see Brandt wearing royal blue in the beginning saying “Howdy” and at the end swiping a customer’s credit card.
Most of the time Brandt rides to work on DART’s paratransit service, a curb-to-curb ride-sharing option for folks disabilities. Other times his parents, Kari and Bryan, or grandparents, longtime LH residents Ruth and Kent Adams, drive him. He puts some of his earnings into savings and uses some to buy tickets to sporting events. And, yes, he eats a lot of ice cream. (“I’m a very good taster.”)
In just a month, Brandt has picked up several new skills – and plenty of confidence.
“I’ve learned how to run the cash register and give people change if they pay cash,” says Brandt.
And if a customer needs a suggestion for the best-tasting ice cream flavors?
That’s easy, says Brandt. “Red Velvet, C is for Cookie and Dr. Pepper Chocolate Chip.”
Brandt balances his new job with a couple of classes at Richland College, an internship in Richardson High School’s athletic department and jobs at Neighbor’s Casual Kitchen and Topgolf.
“I’d like to own my own shop some day,” says Brandt, “or be a manager at Howdy or another ice cream shop or restaurant.”
You know, I just think he will.
Howdy Homemade is located at 4333 Lovers Lane near the Tollway. They are hosting a grand opening Saturday, February 6 from 5-9 p.m. to celebrate the success of their “special store” and their “special team.”