Vinny & Bay’s Coffee and Eatery: Panama City, Florida
Courtesy Vinny and Bay's Coffee and Eatery
“A lot of people plan their vacations around coming to this coffee shop,” says café owner Kara Rigby. Vinny & Bay’s Coffee and Eatery was established “so that Baylee had a place to work,” Rigby adds. Baylee is Rigby’s daughter’s friend who has a disability. The coffee shop’s goal is to become a training spot for individuals like Baylee. Some workers have even started at Vinny & Bay’s and were able to transition into a regular workplace. Rigby has seen changes not only with each employee but also with customers. Rigby says that her employees “have a whole lot more abilities than disabilities. They love unconditionally, and it changes the whole environment and business.” Rigby believes that incorporating even just one or two disabled individuals into a business can change the whole atmosphere—for the better!
Mozzeria: San Francisco, California
Clare Cassidy Photograph/Courtesy Mozzeria
Mozzeria is not only committed to making traditional and imaginative pizzas, but they are also committed to hiring Deaf people. Co-founder Melody Stein stands by the belief that employing an all-Deaf team is one of the best decisions the restaurant has made. “We understand how hard it is for Deaf people to find jobs—I’ve been in their shoes.” Melody and her husband, Russ, who started Mozzeria together, are both Deaf.
When Melody applied to a culinary school, she was rejected simply because she was Deaf. “I felt so disappointed that they didn’t even give me a chance,” she says. “I refused to give up though, so I taught myself how to cook at home, and took pizza- and pasta-making classes in Italy.” Mozzeria depends on Deaf individuals to take orders and cook its scrumptious pizzas, and even create the artwork on the walls. Did you know Starbucks has a signing store, too?
Bloom Café: St. Louis, Missouri
Courtesy Bloom Café
Bloom Café wants to help solve one of the greatest barriers to independence for people with disabilities—the significant lack of employment opportunities. The café offers a three-step curriculum for disabled individuals: a 12-week skills-based training program, a paid internship at Bloom Café or a partner employer, and help with job placement. “There is truly a place for everybody in the hospitality business—not every industry offers that,” says the café’s culinary director, Joe Wilson. Grab a salad, wrap, or sweet treat at Bloom Café and admire the employees as they power through their tasks with pride.