Gabi Angelini, a 20-year-old with Down syndrome, is about to become the proud owner of North Carolina’s latest coffee shop.
“When people drink my coffee, they’ll get a warm hug,” Gabi said. “Oh yeah, I’m a hugger.”
Gabi’s journey to owning her own coffee shop began when she graduated high school and found it was especially difficult to get hired.
“Last summer, I was trying to get a job but they didn’t hire me because I have a disability,” Gabi said.
While she already held a part time job as a bagger at a local grocery store, Gabi said it was hard for her to pick up extra shifts or get hired for a full-time position.
Gabi also began noticing that her friends, who also suffer from physical and mental disabilities, were also having difficulty finding jobs.
“That just solidified that if I want her to be successful, we’re going to have to make it happen,” said her mom, Mary Angelini. “I do feel that kids with disabilities are misunderstood. I think they just need to be given a chance.”
From a young age, Gabi has dreamed of opening a restaurant, but her mom suggested they tackle a smaller project first, like coffee and baked goods.
“She said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Mary recalled.
From there, Gabi’s Grounds came to life, and the soon-to-be business owner imagines hiring all her friends to work with her, and host events like karaoke nights and dance parties.
“We’re going to have a fun time together and sing and dance a lot,” Gabi said.
Mary reassured, “These kids are great employees, so we’re going to have a fantastic work force.”
So far, Gabi has her own blend through a partnership with a local coffee shop that she delivers personally and sells at events. With the money from sales and additional fundraising efforts, she plans to open her café by next year.