Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man with Autism Opens Own Coffee Shop After No One Would Hire Him


Rejection is never fun, especially when you put your heart and soul into something. No one applying for work likes to be told “no thank you,” and the effect that a repeated “no” has on a person can be devastating.

When Michael Coyne — who has autism and is a Special Olympics athlete — applied for jobs, he kept getting passed over.

“After I turned 21 I applied to multiple places,” he told WLNE-TV. “None of them would hire me.”

That wasn’t just tough for Coyne himself, it was tough for his mother Sheila Coyne to see — especially because her other children had managed to find work.

“It’s not easy for parents to watch your kid sit around the kitchen table while everyone else is enjoying life and coworkers, and talking about their day,” she said.

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But instead of taking the defeat sitting down, Michael decided to change things himself. If he couldn’t find a business that would take him on, he’d create that business himself.

Michael started by taking business classes, and then he opened “Red White & Brew Coffeehouse” in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.

The coffeehouse’s Facebook page is full of updates and photos of the cute shop.

“We are a family owned coffee shop serving up more than a cup of coffee,” its “About” page read. “We employ people with developmental disabilities, encourage community engagement, and change the way the world sees those with disabilities.”

“We are a specialty coffeehouse, selling locally roasted coffee beans,” the page continued. “We also sell muffins, pastries, and calzones. We share our home with The Budding Violet, a unique gift shop filled with items from local artists.”

Many of those local artists have disabilities themselves, and the shop provides an outlet for their talents and an opportunity to turn a profit on their wares.

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The shop is more than a nice place to get a hot cup of joe and promote a local business — it has become a “beacon of hope” for parents who worry their children won’t have the same opportunities so many others are afforded.

“It’s just a beacon of hope for people with disabilities,” Michael told WPRI-TV.

“We’ve had parents come in with tears in their eyes with the hope that their young children will eventually be accepted into the community,” Sheila told WLNE-TV.

“We’ve been very busy,” Michael added. “It’s been fun.”

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