National chain that employs intellectually, developmentally disabled to open local coffee shop

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 12:31 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A national coffee shop chain that employs workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities will open a shop in Waco.

Amy and Ben Wright of Wilmington, N.C. started Bitty & Beau’s Coffee in 2016, inspired by their children, Bitty, 11, and Beau, 16, both of whom have Down syndrome.

Since that time, the Wrights have opened nine coffees shops across five states, mostly on the East Coast.

They decided to spread their wings to Waco because of its community feel and popularity worldwide as a tourist destination.

“We like to plant ourselves in places where we can reach a lot of people because we feel like that’s how our mission grows,” Amy said.

It was a mission born out of love for her children but also a dire statistic; 80% of people with intellectual and development disabilities are unemployed nationwide.

Amy says she wanted to create a path for people like her kids to become more valued, accepted and included in every community.

“For us, it started with ‘hey let’s just make a dent in that unemployment that exists,’ but it evolved into a human rights movement,” Amy said.

“We feel like it’s equally as important to create these jobs as it is, if not more important, for people to come into our shops and see what’s possible so they can see the value in these individuals’ lives.”

Amy Sauer and her husband Mark are co-owners of the Waco franchise, which she describes as “a human rights movement that is disguised as a coffee shop.”

Her family is moving from Dallas to Waco to operate the business.

“We have loved this town for a long time because our daughters went to Baylor, met their husbands there, and received an excellent education that included a Christian worldview,” she said.

“We are now learning about the people of Waco and we couldn’t be more pleased with the generosity, Texas hospitality, and love they have shown us.”

Amy met last week with local special needs families at Bubba’s 33 to talk about the new enterprise including Stephanie Wolfe, whose daughter, Addie was born with significant chromosomal abnormalities and sacrococcygeal teratoma, an unusual tumor situated at the base of the tailbone.

Addie is non-verbal, blind and deaf and has epilepsy and lower muscle tone and respiratory issues that require her to use a tracheal tube and ventilator.

Stephanie hopes the coffee shop could provide her daughter with opportunities she’s never had before.

“She’s in a wheelchair and I just wanted to see what kind of opportunity that that could bring for my child and for the other children with disabilities in the community,” Stephanie said.

It’s a feeling echoed by Melissa Copp whose sons Calan and Lawson were born with a rare genetic condition that prevents them from walking on their own.

“We were so excited to chat with her about not only what the franchise is going to do in Waco, but for the special needs community and what it would do for our kids and how much inspiration it’s going to be to have the store open,” Melissa said.

Maggie Blair has a brother with special needs and was thrilled to hear the coffee shop was coming to Waco.

“I as a sibling to a special needs brother have been following Bitty & Beau’s for a while and the fact that Waco is getting so honored to have one here is just incredible,” she said.

The owners are still scouting for the perfect location.

Once they find it, they’ll have a job fair where everyone is invited and no resume is needed.

They hope to open the shop by August.

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