By Jon Solmundson
A local Indian restaurant owner says staff from a disability employment agency have helped him open a new outlet in Wandina. Jicky Sharma said he has been running Origin India in Geraldton for the past 15 years, but decided to open the new store two weeks ago.
"One day I was going down the road, and I noticed everyone is leaving from here (Wandina) for work in the morning, and the same when they come back around five or six o'clock," he said.
"I realised these were all the customers who were telling me, 'Please deliver to Wandina', but it was hard for us to deliver to Wandina all the time, so when I saw this opportunity I said, 'Well, why not jump on it?'"
Mr Sharma said there was an opening in the market for satisfying customer service.
"If we're talking about Indian food it's not just about making it hot - you have to ask the customer what spices they actually want," he said.
"We're never going to say to them, 'No, it comes like this from India so that's the way it is'.
"That's what we're trying to bring over here - mum's homestyle food you can eat every day, not just hot restaurant food."
Origin India has also recently begun hiring staff with disabilities, bringing on new delivery drivers and kitchen hands to help with the business.
Tamus Anderson, from APM Employment Services, said Origin had made a real effort to be supportive and welcoming of their new staff, and businesses such as Mr Sharma's made a big difference to people with disabilities.
Mr Sharma said while he was originally scared to bring on staff with disabilities due to potential difficulties or costs, the enthusiasm of his new employees quickly turned everyone around.
"People who have a disability, God gave them something more, so we need to see how we can use them and help them, make a good team," he said.
"I was also very surprised to see our customers being so supportive - they were very encouraging, even if it sometimes took a little longer for things to come.