Andrew Ankar wins best Chattanoogan
Many Chattanoogan's do remarkable things, but only one can be named the best of the best, and this year's "Best Chattanoogan," Andrew Ankar, brought everyone to their feet for a standing ovation.
Many Chattanoogans do remarkable things, but only one can be named the best of the best, and this year's "Best Chattanoogan," Andrew Ankar, brought everyone to their feet for a standing ovation.
"He's so happy. He made daddy proud. He made his brother proud. He made mommy proud. Everybody's so proud of this young man," said Judy Ankar, Andrew's mother.
The family's restaurant, Ankar's Hoagies, also won the hearts of thousands of people across the Tennessee Valley, taking home the "Best Sandwich Shop" award. Judy said she was overwhelmed with emotions at Thursday's Best of the Best awards banquet.
"I'm just so humbled. It's just so awesome to see people come out and root for him, and just be there for us. It was just amazing. Words can't describe it."
Ankar's restaurant has been a family business since the 1970s. When Andrew's father, George Ankar, died last year he helped take over the Hixson location as a part-owner.
Back in May, a customer filed a formal complaint with the Hamilton County Health Department, referencing the fact that Andrew has Down syndrome.
Though was shocking for the family, Judy said she's now grateful for it.
"I never got to say thank you to that customer. I want to thank whoever it was, because it brought so much awareness to children with disabilities, adults with disabilities, and to let them see how perfect Andrew is, I cant tell you how blessed we are."
It's a blessing Judy shares with hundreds of customers everyday. Some even stop by just to visit him.
"He never forgets a name. We're just real proud of him," said Margaret Rhymer.
Andrew's contagious smile has touched many people, and will soon be featured in a new TV comedy show, "Mac and Drew." He and his longtime friend Chris McNelly, launched a pilot last year, with hopes the show would help bring attention to people with special needs working in any industry. Judy tells Channel 3, the show was recently picked up by a major TV production company.