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Unique Central Texas coffee shop searches for some equally unique employees

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A coffee shop that employs those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is getting ready to open in downtown Waco, and that’s welcome news to dozens in the area who are hoping for a chance to work there.

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee held a job fair over the weekend at the Waco Hilton ahead of its expected fall opening.

Dozens of potential workers 18 and older with special needs turned out for what many of the applicants said was their first ever job interview. Chris Barrington, 32, has autism and had never been on an interview before Saturday.

“Why do you want to work there?” his caregiver Michell Girard asked him.

“Is it to make tons of money? Or is it because you want to learn new things and make friends?”

“Yes,” Barrington said confidently.

Chris and dozens of others took part in group interviews in which applicants were asked simply to share things about themselves.

Tanner Underwood, 23, was also there for his first job interview.

Tanner was a 13-year-old Lorena eight grader when his mother’s car was rear ended in 2012 on Interstate 35 near the Waco traffic circle

He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury.

His mom, Carol, has been with him every step of the way in his recovery and encouraged her son to apply for a job.

She says it is a big next step for Tanner.

“Having a job would be a big step to the next phase of his recovery,” Carol said.

“We’re super excited about Bitty and Beau’s coming here and hope he gets a job.”

Meghan Young, the program director from Bitty & Beau’s corporate office, made the trip to Waco to help out.

She was excited about the nearly 50 people she says asked for a chance to join the unique business which aims to change the way people view those with disabilities.

“We’re hiring our cashiers, our baristas, greeters at our coffee shop and all that so we’re having a lot of fun,” she said.

Bitty & Beau’s says it plans to hire in the next few weeks for the Waco shop, which is due to open in early October at 110 Franklin Ave.

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.

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