Georgetown’s new cafe is making an impact one cup at a time

A new cafe in Georgetown does more than serve coffee, it changes lives and creates opportunities.

It’s called Bitty And Beau’s Coffee and they just celebrated their first month with no shortage of customers. The company was founded by Amy and Ben Wright in 2016, in honor of two of their children Bitty and Beau, both of whom have Down syndrome. As parents of children with disabilities, the couple have seen firsthand the challenges faced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities when it comes to meaningful employment.

Download the FOX 5 DC News app for the latest local news and weather

“80% of people with disabilities are unemployed in our country and we think that’s unacceptable,” Amy Wright told FOX 5.

They decided they needed to help change that statistic.

“We started this chain of cafes to employ people with disabilities and to show every guest who walks through the doors what’s possible when you give people with disabilities a chance,” Wright said.

The cafe started in a small 500 square foot location in Wilmington, NC and over the years has expanded across the country with 23 locations and offers franchise opportunities.

Now, says Wright, Bitty And Beau’s has employed more than 350 people with disabilities across the country and says, “we’re just getting started.”

Max Gulley, 18, is one of 350 employees and works at the new Georgetown site. He says it was the first job he ever had and it had a very positive impact on his life.

“It was the best first job I could have asked for,” Gulley said.

He enjoys working as a cashier and interacting with customers. Gulley says he’s the first person customers see when they walk through the door, and he likes to greet them with a smile on his face.

But there wouldn’t be coffee without baristas like Eric Aikens who mix and mingle the shop’s signature drinks.

Aikens’ co-workers call him the store’s mixologist because he’s known for adding his own twist to his drink-making skills. He says his favorite drink is the Cotton Candy Frappe and that working at the store has changed his life because Bitty And Beau’s is “family”.

“The manager and owner are really good people, and they care about people’s feelings and how they treat other people,” Aikens said.

As Amy and Ben reflect on their journey with Bitty and Beau’s, they are touched daily by the impact the stores, their message and their mission have had on communities and the world.

“It is suffocating us. We cry every day, tears of joy, because of the moments that happen in the cafe. The families who come with their children in search of a glimpse of hope, what might be like the future of their child. And we’re just honored to be vessels to demonstrate that,” Wright said.

Wright’s wish is that everyone who walks into the shop will come away with a new perspective and consider hiring someone with a disability.

And Gulley agrees.

“Disabled people aren’t broken and never will be,” Gulley said.

Bitty And Beau’s Coffee is located at 3207 M Street, NW at the corner of M street and Wisconsin Avenue.

SUBSCRIBE TO FOX 5 DC ON YOUTUBE

You can read more about Bitty And Beau’s here.