In a college town like Waco, coffee shops abound. Waco, however, is home to only one coffee shop where you can study and have a dance party. At Bitty and Beau’s, there is never a shortage of dance parties and bright smiles. When you sit down at this sweet coffee shop you don’t just work, you play. You don’t simply buy a drink; you make a friend. At Bitty and Beau’s, you will find a wealth of joy where differences lose all power, and life gains a brighter color. At Bitty and Beau’s, you will experience the gift of hope, the power of joy, and the blessing of community.
Bitty and Beau’s opened January 2016 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Its first shop employed 19 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Amy Wright, the founder of Bitty and Beau’s, recalls discovering that her two children, Beau and Bitty, would be born with Down syndrome, and learning the staggering statistic that 80% of adults with disabilities remain unemployed. Determined to change this statistic and to offer hope for the future, Bitty and Beau’s Coffee was born.
Amy and Ben Wright created Bitty and Beau’s as a path for people with disabilities to become more valued, accepted, and included in every community. In November of 2021, this path opened to the community of Waco, Texas. Despite the challenges brought on by COVID, Bitty and Beau’s opened its doors on Franklin Avenue and has been a light to the Baylor and Waco community ever since.
Owners Mark and Amy Sauer run Bitty and Beaus Coffee Waco with a welcoming spirit and a zeal for the mission of Bitty and Beau’s. Their community-minded approach and love for their employees and customers left an impression on me and certainly many other customers they have welcomed in their doors.
Waco’s Bitty and Beau’s is nothing short of a community. “There are over 61,000 coffee shops in America,” says Amy Wright, “but whereas most coffee shops focus on the product, Bitty and Beau’s focuses on the one serving you the coffee.” It is almost impossible to visit without making a new friend behind the counter. Sophie, an excellent greeter and saleswoman (she totally sold me on the brown sugar latte), will tell anyone who asks, that Bitty and Beau’s is like a family. Just sit at the bar and you will be part of their family too. Stephen, a friendly comedian with the best laugh, will know your name immediately. Zair and Olivia, two excellent baristas, will become your new best friends and conversation buddies. Bitty and Beau’s sets an example of what community can and should look like: bonds powered by joy and marked by open arms.
Just an hour spent with the staff of Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Waco will leave you amazed by the talents of these workers and edified by their zeal for life and love for others. “The employees are what makes Bitty and Beau’s special,” Wright says, and nothing could be more true. Zair, an amazing artist and powerful writer, will blow you away with her intricate drawings and beautiful poems. Sophie’s love for her friends and family will make you want to tell all your friends how much you love them. Olivia, a world traveler, will tell you all about her favorite destination spots from Scotland to Hawaii. Blake, an outstanding magician and mathematician, will leave you dumbfounded by his card tricks and ability to divide any number by 5.
The brilliant minds and colorful lives of the employees you meet at Bitty and Beau’s will remind you that gifts and talents don’t discriminate, and we shouldn’t either. Bitty and Beau’s trains your eyes to see value and beauty in the people before us
At Bitty and Beau’s, bursts of laughter are the norm. Smiles find their way to every face. You can always expect a break from your studies when a speaker rolls out and one of the talented staff grabs the mic. Dance Party!
These dance parties are fun. A trip to Bitty and Beau’s reminds you that life is more than just working and studying for the next test or promotion. No, life must have laughter and play. You don’t realize how much your soul needs a dance party until you’re singing “Walking on Sunshine” with your new friends, and through the laughs and smiles you realize that life truly is meant to be walked on sunshine.
The impact Bitty and Beau’s has on their customers and community reflects the power of their mission: that people with disabilities would become more valued, accepted, and included in every community. Zach, a Baylor undergraduate and Bitty and Beau’s regular, will tell anyone about the power of Bitty and Beau’s mission. “They do so much more than just hire people with disabilities, they give them hope.”
This hope underpins the entire mission of Bitty and Beau’s. Josh, the manager of the Waco location says his favorite moments are when mothers of children with disabilities come to Bitty and Beau’s and realize the hope possible for their children.
“Apron Ceremonies” are symbolic of this hope. At these ceremonies, the Bitty and Beau’s employees receive the aprons they earn, a special and joyous moment. Wright recalls the apron ceremony held at the Magnolia Silos as one of her favorite memories. These ceremonies demonstrate the power of hope and joy it brings.
Go to Bitty and Beau’s. Order a coffee, have a dance party, and make a friend. You’ll leave confident that differences aren’t barriers, but opportunities to experience the gift of hope, the power of joy, and the blessing of community.