Southern Made: Bitty & Beau's Coffee Shop

You won't find any coffee shop more welcoming or warmhearted than Bitty & Beau's in Wilmington, North Carolina. Founded by owner Amy Wright and her husband, the shop is run by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in honor of the couple's two children – Bitty and Beau – who have Down Syndrome. "While Bitty and Beau aren't looking for jobs right now, " says Amy, "it's on our radar. There's a statistic that somewhere between 70-85% of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed–and we just think that's an embarrassment to our country." The Wilmington community has rallied around this shop, which employees more than forty individuals, and reinforced it as a true gem of Southern pride, culture, warmth, and hospitality. We love what Bitty & Beau's is doing – and we think you will, too.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

[MUSIC] There is a different level of hospitality when you walk in to this place and I just think it's because you are welcome. It is the most genuine thing you'll ever feel. Up here is our coffee blends, if you want a little pick-me-up, I suggest a Sundance this morning My husband and I have four children, and Biddy and Beau are our youngest two. And, they both have down syndrome. And while Biddy and Beau are not looking for jobs right now, it's on our radar. There's a statistic that somewhere between 70 to 85% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed. And we just think that's an embarrassment to our country and we decided we'd do something about it. [MUSIC] One, two, three [INAUDIBLE]. Okay but I want you guys to know. We were looking for a job. We applied everywhere. We called. We did everything and no one would call back. And then we came here and it was just, that's it. Welcome to 89. I run the cash register. I take the customers orders and I also get them their playing cards. Here at Betty and Bess we use playing cards as test run orders so we call it Jack of hearts, come and get your order Okay, thank you. One of the things we love about the South is the warmth and hospitality we feel. Take that feeling and multiply it times a million, and that's what you'll feel when you come in to Bitty & Beau's Coffee. The atmosphere is one of the things that I think makes Bitty & Beau's Coffee unique. A lot of times, I think, when you think about a coffee shop, I think rush and quick and you're You're trying to get out the door with your coffee in the morning. And I think the pace change is when you walk into Bitty & Beau's. It's very intentional that we don't have a drive-thru here, because we feel like we've created a culture where people are spending time together. And the icing on the cake is that some of those people have intellectual and developmental Mental disabilities. And I think when that happens, the walls come down. [MUSIC] For most of our employees, they've never had a job before. And Bitty & Beau's has given them a new sense of identity. People recognize them, people respect them. I know that the community has come around this place. Like nothing else that I've seen in a very long time. They have surrounded this place with love and support. It's not just a coffee shop. They're coming for the people and they just make you feel so welcome and so accepted and everybody loves everybody in this place and you can see it on their faces in when they help you with your orders [BLANK_AUDIO] You have a chance here. I feel very confident in myself. I feel good about myself. I know what I'm doing. And it's amazing. [MUSIC] We have employed 40 people here which makes a big dent in our community, but we see this on a national scale because we believe every community has this same unemployment epidemic and we want to fix that. I would encourage other businesses to think outside the box When they are going to hire their next employee because with intellectual and developmental disabilities bring so many skills to the table. That could be really beneficial to their business. And when given the chance, they can just soar. [MUSIC]
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