Good Business: Coffee Shop Provides Jobs To Those With Disabilities

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Bitty & Beau's Coffee in North Carolina employs those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them a chance to show how capable they really are.

The mission at Bitty & Beau's Coffee in Wilmington, North Carolina, extends past just brewing good coffee — the shop also seeks to employ those with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), such as autism or Down syndrome, CNN reported. Often, this is the employees' first job ever. 

Amy Wright owns the coffee shop, which was inspired by and named after two of her four kids, Beau and Betty. They both have Down syndrome. 

 

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"It hit me like a lightning bolt: a coffee shop!" Wright told CNN. "I realized it would be the perfect environment for bringing people together. Seeing the staff taking orders, serving coffee — they'd realize how capable they are." 

The shop empowers those with IDD by giving them an employment opportunity. About 70 percent of those with IDD are unemployed. 

Since opening in 2016, the shop now has 40 employees with disabilities and is looking toward opening up a second location. Wright's two typically-abled managers have degrees in special education and she has no prior restaurant industry experience. Somehow, though, there is constantly a line out the door. Good business principles mean good business.

All profits go to her nonprofit, Able to Work USA, which addresses the employment gap for those with IDD. 

"We always say, it's more than a cup of coffee," Wright said. "It's a human rights movement; the coffee shop is just a vehicle for making that happen."

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