More than a coffee shop: Bitty & Beau’s Coffee expands to Charleston

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee.

The shop at 4949 New Centre Drive in Wilmington is run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and now is expanding its special service to a second location in Charleston, S.C. this fall.

“We created Bitty & Beau’s Coffee to show the world that people with IDD should be valued, accepted and included members of society, especially in the workplace,” said Amy Wright. “It’s a place where diversity is not just appreciated, it's celebrated.”

And on the choice of Charleston, Amy Wright said it has that southern feel.

“Charleston offers the same southern hospitality we’re accustomed to and was recently voted the ‘Best City in the South’ by Southern Living Magazine, so it’s the perfect place to open our second location,” she said.

“They've had an overwhelming response from communities across the United States but ultimately the southern charm of Charleston won out,” spokeswoman Megan Hanson said in an email.

One of Bitty & Beau's biggest fans, Rachael Ray said recently on her daytime show, “I want to see a Bitty & Beau’s Coffee on every corner from coast to coast.” Bitty & Beau’s is the “official coffee of the Rachael Ray Show.”

Bitty & Beau’s says it “reinvented the coffee experience” on its website and owners Amy and Ben Wright brew up more than good coffee.

“Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is a human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop,” according to a news release on the expansion. “By hiring an entire staff of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), Bitty & Beau’s Coffee provides a one-of-a-kind experience that will forever change the way communities view those with IDD.”

Bitty & Beau’s Coffee was founded in 2016 by Amy and Ben Wright who are the proud parents of four children, two of whom have Down syndrome – Bitty and Beau. With more than 80 percent of people with IDD unemployed nationwide, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee “creates a path for people with IDD to become more valued, accepted and included in every community.”

The original Beau’s Coffee opened January 2016 in a 500 square foot space in Wilmington. The original shop was run by 19 employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In July 2016, Beau’s Coffee was renamed Bitty & Beau’s Coffee – Beau’s 12th birthday wish was to have his little sister’s name put up in lights, too –and moved to a 5,000-square-foot building that now serves as both a local coffee house and national headquarters. Bitty & Beau’s Coffee now employs 40 people with IDD and has been featured on The Rachael Ray Show, Harry, Good Morning America, HLN, People Magazine and Southern Living Magazine.

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Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett