Columbus hot dog business helping those with special needs find work

COLUMBUS, Ind. - After an unexpected medical emergency nearly lost him his daughter, Randy Lapidus has opened a hot dog restaurant to help her, and others who struggle to find an enjoyable job, work.

Lapidus opened Special Dogs & More on Sunday inside the Fair Oaks Mall.

“I’m a New Yorker," said Lapidus, who has lived in Columbus for the last 30 years. "It’s breakfast, lunch, and hot dogs. So why not open a hot dog place and we can employ the mentally challenged, the intellectually disabled, and be able to give them the opportunity to build that resume. We can build that self-confidence, their self-worth, and then go on to somewhere else and carry on that job.”

For Lapidus, the business was a way to say thank you to Columbus for supporting him and his family.

According to the business owner, his daughter went into what's known as sudden cardiac arrest in July of 2011. "Rachel was arguing with a cousin," he said. "She just collapsed."

Doctors haven't been able to pinpoint what happened. Lapidus believes it was all stress related.

"Stress can kill," he said.

The family was constantly told the limitations Rachel would never overcome, but time and time again, they were wrong.

“They told us she would never walk or talk again, let alone be able to function," said Lapidus.

Rachel's recovery, which isn't over, is now six-and-a-half years long. She began vocational rehab more than two years ago.

"She wanted to be a special education teacher," Lapidus said about his daughter, who is now 25.

Finding a job for his daughter has proven to be another difficult challenge as she learns to do everything again.

“Only 17 percent of mentally intellectually individuals are employed," Lapidus said. "Seventy percent of all disabled are unemployed in the United States.”

That's why the new hot dog business came about. It wasn't just Rachel who Lapidus had in mind.

“We live in a great community," Lapidus said. "This community stood behind us with our daughter in helping us raised money to be able to help her. Whether it be through brain injury, autism, just all kinds on the spectrum of employees.”