Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is about more than simply coffee; it’s about acceptance and inclusion for persons with intellectual and developmental impairments.
Amy Wright has been married to “Mr. Wright” for 27 years, and their two youngest children, Bitty and Beau, both have Down syndrome, making the Wrights the “luckiest people on the earth.” When the pair realized that over 80% of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities are jobless, they resolved to do something about it. They created their first coffee business, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, and named it after their children.
“It dawned on me… a coffee shop!” Amy explains. “I thought it would be the ideal setting for bringing people together,” she says. They’d understand how adept they are after seeing the employees take orders and serve coffee.”
According to Bitty & Beau’s website, the coffee shop’s mission is to make the world a better place for individuals with disabilities, not to make money.
The Wrights have committed their life to making the world a better place for their children and others living with disabilities as champions for the value, inclusion, and acceptance of individuals with intellectual and developmental impairments.
Bitty & Beau’s team is almost entirely made up of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome, autism, or cerebral palsy. This is many people’s first employment, and their increased confidence has resulted in a delightfully cheerful atmosphere.
Their first branch, in Wilmington, North Carolina, debuted in 2016 and quickly gained a huge following. They were able to go from a 500 square foot facility to a 5,000 square foot building in just six months.
The initial shop employed 19 people, but it now has a workforce of 40. Both of the supervisors on staff have degrees in special education and assist to foster a good working environment for everybody. The coffees and lattes are just as good as any other cafe’s and are served just as quickly.
“We don’t have a higher wait time than any of our rivals. About their 40 employees, Amy stated, “They’ve all grown extremely skilled at their jobs and step up if someone else needs help.”
The second Bitty & Beau’s Coffee, in Charleston, South Carolina, debuted in 2018 and already employs an incredible 80 people.
“Because of this, individuals now have a means to interact with people with impairments that they didn’t have previously. This is a safe space where individuals may test the waters and see how similar we are rather than how different we are. That’s what it’s all about”, adds Amy.
Their coffee franchise, which now has four locations, is making a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of people with developmental impairments.
Amy received the CNN Hero of the Year Award in 2017 for her humanitarian activities, and $100,000 was donated to her cause. In 2018, their coffee became the official coffee of the Rachel Ray Show.
Amy believes that by setting an example, other businesses will be inspired to recruit individuals with disabilities.