New Lexington coffee house employs people with special needs

Employees prepare for McLeod's Coffee House grand opening in October 2019.
Employees prepare for McLeod's Coffee House grand opening in October 2019.(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 23, 2019 at 11:10 PM EDT
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A Lexington pastor has had an idea brewing in the back of his head for a while, and now he has a team of 50 pouring their heart and soul into it.

Brewster McLeod's 50 employees, or VIPs as he calls them, will be trained for every role at the coffee house.

"They got joy, they got heart, they want to work,' McLeod said.

At this restaurant the customer comes first, but they also want the customer's time inside the shop to be eye-opening.

"If Down syndrome or special needs make you nervous, you probably need to come in here and relax and just treat them like anyone else," McLeod said.

The employees said they are excited to have a space that welcomes differently abled people. They're hoping McLeod's Coffee House inspires other businesses down the road and across the city.

"We still wanna have friends, we still wanna do things, we still wanna go out and hang out with our friends, and just do normal stuff," said Megan Gaines, one of the employees.

Gaines is excited for her role behind the cash register. She's glad McLeod's is setting an example of what it means to be accessible, something she says other places around town need.

For the manager, Juannell Spotts, it's personal.

"It allows me to have a place for [his sons] when they get older and need a place to work," he said. "My sons having autism, that is something i'll be able to do."

McLeod's goal is to show the community that people with special needs aren't that different, and they deserve a safe place to work, too.

"My prayer is that everyone on Southland Drive, they come over here for a good cup of coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, diet coke, and a sandwich and then meet Megan or they meet Jeremy and someone may stop me and say,' Brewster, can you tell me about Jeremy? Could he give me two hours at the gas station?'" McLeod said.