Coffee Shop Employs the Developmentally Disabled and Their Story Will Warm Your Heart
Lifestyle| | By Lauren Boudreau
Bitty and Beau’s Coffee may seem like an ordinary coffee shop on the outside, but on the inside, something amazing is happening. Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, the coffee shop is run by staffers with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
It was founded by Amy Wright, whose son Beau and daughter Bitty both have Down syndrome, and opened Jan. 25.
Speaking to The Mighty, Wright said she got the idea for the shop just a few months before opening and things snowballed from there.
“While establishing Beau’s Coffee unfolded very quickly, my husband and I have been advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for over a decade,” she told The Mighty. “Beau’s Coffee just flowed from this passion.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that nearly 70 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed. However, Wright knew that people with disabilities could be productive members of society if just given a chance.
“People with IDD make wonderful employees who can make positive contributions to a business when given the chance,” she said. “My experience has been that people with special needs bring a refreshing perspective to every moment in life. Working alongside this population has been one of my greatest joys in life.”
Since its opening, Beau’s Coffee has seen an influx of hundreds of customers, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Wright said she hopes to open other locations and that Wilmington will become a model for other similar businesses. She also said that she hopes Beau will someday take over the family business.
The shop currently employs 18 people with an intellectual and developmental disability.
“Our community has completely embraced Beau’s Coffee,” Wright added. “Every expectation that we had has been exceeded.”