AUSTIN — An Austin coffee shop employs an all-inclusive staff, but the owners are also working to show that it can still make a profit.
At Empowered Coffee, their motto is the friendliest way to start the day.
"You can't come here and not smile,” said owner Jonathan Davis.
Davis and his wife brewed up this special coffee shop with a unique staff.
"We have one typical general manager and seven additional adults who work here and everyone has either down syndrome or cerebral palsy and it’s been amazing,” said Davis.
Haley McDaniel and Morgan Collins are both integral parts of the all-inclusive staff at Empowered Coffee.
"I love it,” said Collins.
“I love working here,” said McDaniel.
They like to greet customers and have some pretty good selling techniques.
"One thing I said, 'come on get something else too, like a taco, or banana bread, or coffee cake',” said Collins.
"When we first came up with the idea, we had a lot of people say, 'oh that would be an interesting nonprofit and maybe you could do that in a couple of years',” Davis said.
But instead, Davis and his wife opened this coffee shop in just five weeks and they made it a for-profit business.
"Let's prove that this can be run without government aid, without taxpayer assistance,” said Davis. “That is profitable and show a lot of people what can be done when you just get rid of any preconceived notions you might have.”
"If we have to pay taxes that’s a good thing, we want to put money back into the community, instead of asking the community to take care of us.”
Davis wants Empowered Coffee to be a gathering place -- for everyone.
Jesse Scanlon and her friends Try to come at least once a week.
"The coffee's amazing, the employees are amazing, you leave here in a great mood I think," said Scanlon.
Scanlon said they like the environment.
“If you go somewhere else like a Starbucks or something like that, everyone’s kind of doing things independently, no one’s really talking to each other, but here you come, everyone’s super friendly. The employees are great, but all of the clientele that comes here, everyone’s talking to each other, everyone’s having conversations,” said Scanlon.
Scanlon said they also like supporting the all-inclusive efforts.
"It supports employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and there aren't a ton of places that do that,” said Scanlon.
Now, Davis wants raise the bar even higher.
“One of our goals was, by the end of this year, this coffee shop can be entirely self sustaining without a typical adult,” said Davis.
Empowered Coffee will have two test days in June.
"I think the biggest thing that we want people to recognize is we've got a staff of people that work really hard they just happen to have intellectual disabilities,” said Davis.
Davis said they just launched a website and plan to sell their coffee beans and gear --- like hats and aprons.
He said they've had requests from people around the country who want to buy their product and support the cause.