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Coffee shop opens with mission to offer job opportunities to those with special needs

By Leah Hope

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    NAPERVILLE, Illinois (WLS) — Phoenix Coffee House in Naperville officially opened Monday off 95th Street, with a mission to offer job opportunities to people with special needs.

The new west suburban coffee shop has already been such a big hit in the community that they had to make an unexpected supply run on just their second day after selling 500 cups of coffee during its grand opening.

“I truly believe that no one is unemployable. If you have limitations or barriers in your life, we’ll figure it out. We’ll find something you can do,” said Phoenix Coffee House owner, Jerrod Nichols.

“You just want to tell everybody that we can do all of the things that other people can do,” said Ellie Martin, the assistant manager at Phoenix Coffee House.

The new shop is Tim Herzberger’s first job. He said making lattes is his favorite and Monday he got great praise from a customer.

“Your latte is really good because I made it by myself,” Herzberger said.

The cafe partners with Awesome Life Academy.

“It’s about teaching skills to our employees as much as it’s about us giving them opportunities to overcome their limitations,” said Brandon Quaintance, with Awesome Life Academy. “We are also trying to help the community overcome their limitations in working with individuals with special needs.”

Tuesday was also busy with people going out of their ways to support the business, including parents like Noelle Bender.

She didn’t think her son Jeffrey would ever have a job.

“This is like a dream come true,” Bender said. “I don’t know, it’s very emotional.”

The cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, as well as from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The staff welcomes the opportunity to serve a great latte and shatter stigmas about people with special needs.

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