South Carolina coffee shop empowers employees with special needs

Charleston coffee shop empowers special needs people with jobs

Last Updated Feb 25, 2020 8:05 PM EST

Charleston, South Carolina — We've been greeted with a huge helping of Southern hospitality, especially at a coffee shop where you'll find a lot of sweetness — and not just on the menu.

At Bitty and Beau's Coffee Shop, cotton candy frappes are the house specialty and very popular.

But they're not the only thing that makes this place truly special. It's the people who work here, like Trista Kutcher, who showed CBS News how to craft a beverage.

"As a parent of a child with special needs, you start thinking about their future," the shop's owner, Amy Wright, told CBS News. "And one of the obstacles that people with disabilities face is finding meaningful employment. And [this] coffee shop was born out of that need."

Two of Amy's children have Down syndrome: Bitty and Beau.

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CBS News

"For a long time, people with disabilities have had opportunities to work, but they've been in the back," Wright explained. "Their faces haven't been seen and so, at Bitty and Beau's Coffee, the first face you see when you walk in is someone like Sam."

Sam Hazeltine told CBS News: "I'm here to do some work.  I'm not here to mess around. I love dance parties but I'm here to get the job done."

Sometimes dance parties are part of the job, especially since Hazeltine was recently promoted.

"Everybody that walks through the doors here leaves with new perspective," Wright added. "Knows that these individuals -- their lives have value, and they deserve to be accepted and included."

"Me, Trista, we're not broken," Hazeltine said. "We're not broken."

There are now five Bitty and Beau's Coffee Shops employing 120 people with special needs.

"We really feel like this is a place of hope, and we're just getting started," Wright said.

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CBS News
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