WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Last year we introduced you to a Wilmington couple that is working to expand opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, they reached a major milestone in their efforts, as Beau’s Coffee opened its doors in Wilmington for its first batch of customers.
“Unfortunately with the fast pace of the world, we don’t usually slow down and get to know people that are different from us,” Amy Wright said.
That is precisely what Wright, who founded Beau’s Coffee, is trying to change.
“I thought this will be the perfect opportunity to give people with intellectual disabilities jobs, to interact with our community, and show them how capable they are, and hopefully along the way inspire other businesses to hire people with disabilities, too,” Wright said.
Employees are trained on all aspects of running the shop; everything from making drinks to cleaning tables.
“We had to learn how to run everything around here and how to like smile at customers and stuff and give a good positive attitude,” employee Matthew Dean said.
For many of the workers at Beau’s this is more than just a job. It’s an opportunity to be a leader for the disabled community.
“Everybody deserves a chance, physically challenged or not,” Employee Dustin Estarbrook said. “But especially for the ones that are physically challenged, that’s what I do. I’m a leader. I love to lead by example and to hopefully have them follow me.”
The spirit inside the shop at the corner of Kerr and Wrightsville avenues is something positively unique.
“Not only do we encourage them, but they encourage us,” manager Tyler Pruitt said. “They get us out of bed every morning and want to come here.”
They hope Wilmington is just the start.
“Our dream is that someday there will be a Beau’s Coffee in every city in America, and that we will change the statistics, because right now 85 percent of people with intellectual disabilities are unemployed, and it’s unacceptable,” Wright said.
The team at Beau’s says the first day was a major success.
“Great! It’s been awesome!” employee Austin Comford said. “I’m glad for the first day.”
The official grand opening at Beau’s Coffee is Monday. It looks to be a great place to stop and grab that morning cup of joe or muffin. You’ll surely be greeted by some of the cheeriest folks in town if you do.