For his twelfth birthday, the namesake of Beau’s Coffee had just one wish: that his youngest sister’s name be up in lights, too.
Amy Wright, the brainchild behind the unique java joint, recently announced the shop will reopen next month in its new, larger location as Bitty and Beau’s.
Like her big brother, six-year-old Bitty has Down Syndrome. The siblings were the inspiration behind Beau’s Coffee, which opened in January to offer job opportunities to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Realizing the challenges Beau and Bitty may face in the future, last year Wright founded Able to Work USA, a national initiative aimed at pairing individuals with IDD and businesses willing to hire them. She said currently about 85 percent of adult Americans living with IDD are unemployed. Beau’s, a 501(c)(3) that operates under the non-profit Able to Work, was Wright’s out-of-the-box idea to create jobs rather than try to find them.
Beyond serving as the springboard for what has become a wildly popular concept, Beau and Bitty also share a strong bond, Wright said.
“Beau and Bitty are best friends, so it was no surprise that he would want to include her in this special way,” she said of the name change. “Bitty is over the moon.”
His early birthday request came at a perfect time, as renovations continue at the new location, the former Hummer dealership at 4949 New Centre Drive.
The building belongs to Allen Rippy Jr., a loyal patron of Beau’s. The Rippy family recently surprised Wright by donating the use of the 5,000 square foot site to her endeavors, a gift that will increase the coffee shop’s offerings and expand the existing staff.
The New Centre building is ten times the size of Beau’s current spot along Wrightsville Avenue, and Wright plans to put that extra space to good use with a private meeting space and a “quiet area” for those who want to read, work or study.
Bitty and Beau’s will also serve up an expanded menu of items from Farmin’ Brand. In addition to the currently limited assortment of pastries and muffins, the new shop will have gelato from Farmin’ Brand’s Carolina Creamery, as well as breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads.
And Wright hopes to double the current staff of 19, with plans to host a job fair in the near future.
It’s been a big undertaking in a short amount of time, but Wright said it hasn’t been without huge backing from the community. A crowd source funding campaign has garnered nearly $3,000, and Thomas Construction is handling all the upfitting for free.
“Things have been going very smoothly,” Wright noted. “Thomas Construction has been working diligently to get the job done and keep us on schedule…”
That attention to deadlines is especially meaningful for Wright, since she plans to host the grand re-opening of the newly named Bitty and Beau’s on an important date. The re-opening is set for Thursday, July 14, Beau’s birthday.
“Beau…is very excited to share his birthday with all of his friends at the coffee shop and our community too,” Wright said.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. on July 14, with regular business hours set for 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wright said all of Bitty and Beau’s employees will be on hand on that day to meet and greet customers.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.