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Bitty & Beau's Coffee opens Dock Street cafe employs people with intellectual, developmental disabilities
Capital - 2/9/2020
Severna Park resident Carley McGovern will call out customer's coffee orders when they are ready at Bitty & Beau's Coffee on Dock Street, a new cafe that primarily employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
She's had jobs before, but nothing like this.
"This is a job strictly for me," she said. "I'm excited."
The cafe celebrated its opening Saturday, a little less than two weeks after surprising their new employees with job offers. Founder Amy Wright said they are excited to open in Annapolis.
"We have just felt like Annapolis and the surrounding areas wrapped their arms around us since we made this announcement, and today it is so evident," she said.
"We started this coffee shop because we are not going to tolerate the fact that 80% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed in our country. What you're about to see when you walk through these doors today is what's possible."
Wright hopes customers who come to Bitty & Beau's will leave with a fresh perspective and try to find ways to incorporate people with disabilities in their own workplaces.
Employees have been training this week in preparation for the cafe's opening.
McGovern said training has been fun, and she thinks the staff has a family-feel. She has been employed before but said it was nothing like this. She is excited to interact with the customers, saying she's a people person.
Robyn White, of Severna Park, is as well. White will make drinks at Bitty & Beau's, and said she is excited to meet new people, both customers and coworkers. She's ready to work.
"I was happy because I've been out of school 11 years, still looking for a job," she said.
Heather Brow, of Bowie, also said training had been good.
The cafe has four public locations and will soon have two private locations serving corporate headquarters, according to co-founder Ben Wright. Overall, they employ about 120 people with disabilities, Amy Wright said.
The new cafe held its ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, which included Maryland Secretary of Disabilities Carol Beatty, Susan O'Brien from Comptroller Peter Franchot's office, Sen. Sarah Elfreth, Annapolis Alderwoman Ellie Tierney and Acting Mayor Rhonda Pindell-Charles.
Wright said they have hired 26 people for their Annapolis location. Just as the company wanted to surprise them with the job offer, Saturday morning, Wright and her son Beau called out each new employee's name and had them walk out of the shop onto the street, like a starting lineup leaving the locker room.
The line for coffee was out the door Saturday. Bitty & Beau's will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Caption: Amy Wright, from left, husband Ben, and children Beau, 15, and Bitty, 10, cut the ribbon. Bitty & Beau's Coffee, a coffee shop in downtown Annapolis that employs people with disabilities, opened Saturday with a ribbon-cutting.
Amy Wright, left, holds the microphone as her daughter, Bitty, welcomes the crowd outside before the opening.
Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette photos