WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The coffee shop known as the happiest place in Wilmington is getting ready to re-open after being closed for two months during the coronavirus pandemic.
All five Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop locations wll re-open Saturday at 9 a.m.
Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop owner Amy Wright gave WWAY’s Hannah Patrick on reopening, how things have been going for them during the pandemic, and their recent trip to the White House.
“It’s been tough. I mean we made this decision about two months ago to temporarily close our shops and temporarily lay off our employees,” Wright said.
Wright said that was 120 employees across five shops.
“We had to pivot our business from being an in-shop experience to an online experience, but our employees have handled it beautifully,” Wright said. “They’ve helped us to continue to fill online orders during this time and they are very excited about returning to work.”
During a press conference on April 18, President Trump specifically mentioned Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Shop Owner Amy Wright as one of the first small business leaders to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program. President Trump says the program allowed her to keep all 120 workers on her payroll in all five shops.
“It really was a lifeline for us with the help of Live Oak Bank,” Wright said. “We were able to secure that loan and put our employees back on the payroll which was just very important to us as most of them had never had a job before and counting on that paycheck was really important, so we are very grateful for that.”
At the end of April, Wright and some employees were invited to go to the White House.
“I was driving around town at the time and was really taken back,” Wright said. “It really turned out to be a wonderful event. It gave us a chance to advocate for what we believe in and that is that people with disabilities deserve a place in the workforce.”
One of Wright’s employees got to speak while at the White House. Wright said it was really important that Michael’s voice was heard that day.
“I can advocate all day long, but if I can hand the microphone over to one of our employees and let them tell the world why this is important, it’s so much more meaningful,” Wright said.
Michael told the President about their “not broken” message.
“At Bitty and Beaus, we like to use the phrase called ‘not broken.’ That means me and all my amazing coworkers are not broken and we have lots to offer,” Michael said.
Wright said they are opening all five shops on Saturday. She said it phase one for them with scaled back staff.
“We have additional safety measures and precautions to make sure the experience is safe for our employees and our guests,” Wright said.
Bitty & Beau’s will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wright said they will also be open on Memorial Day.