Pizza-loving Windsor teen with a disability finally gets to make his own pie

Riley Fowler, 16, got the chance to go behind the counter at his favourite pizza place.

Shop owner Al Shoka said he made a 'friend for life'

A man and a teen boy smile in front of pizza boxes.
Al Shoka, owner of Naples Pizza, taught 16-year-old Riley Fowler how to work behind the counter at his restaurant after he noticed the teen's interest in making pizza. (Submitted by Amanda Fowler)

This week, Riley Fowler had the chance to step behind the counter of Naples Pizza and learn how to make his favourite pie step-by-step. 

Riley, 16, has been visiting the pizza shop for years with his mother, Amanda Fowler, and that's where they met owner Al Shoka.

Riley and Amanda were picking up a pizza when "Riley and him just started chatting," Amanda said.

A teenaged boy grins while making pizza in a restaurant.
Amanda Fowler, Riley Fowler's mother, said her son was smiling ear-to-ear while he made pizza with Naples Pizza owner Al Shoka. (Submitted by Amanda Fowler)

"I saw how enthusiastic and happy he was watching me [make pizza], so I offered for him to come in and make his own," Shoka said. 

Amanda said that Riley has a disability, and she said seeing how patient and kind Shoka was while showing Riley how to cook "melted my heart."

She said her son was "grinning ear to ear" the whole time he was at the shop. 

Riley had that same ear-to-ear grin when he told CBC News how he made his pizzas. 

A man and a teen make pizza.
Riley Fowler said Naples Pizza is his favourite and he wants to work at the pizza restaurant when he's older. (Submitted by Amanda Fowler)

"You know that big cooking machine? You have to put it in, then you have to cut it," he said. 

Al and Riley made two large pizzas and a garlic bread from him to bring home. 

"He excelled, he did very, very well and I could see the happiness and the peace when he was in here. He looked like he was in his element, he was so natural," Shoka said. 

"I know I made a friend for life." 

In a Facebook post, Amanda wrote, "Thank you Al for having such a kind warm heart and allowing [Riley] this day that he will never forget." 

Riley said Naples Pizza is his favourite place to eat, and that he would like to work there when he's older. 

With files from Mike Evans