14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Chaunie Brusie

May 22, 2024

The great state of Michigan is home to several large companies and small businesses that actively work to recruit, train, and employ adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These employers believe in the mission of empowering those with disabilities through meaningful work, as well as filling the vital needs of a company with talented individuals.

From small businesses founded by those who have been personally touched by people with disabilities to larger companies focused on inclusion and diversity, here are 14 places in Michigan where adults with developmental disabilities can find employment.

Brody’s Be Cafe

Serving up “coffee with a purpose,” Brody’s Be Cafe started in Ada, MI, and has now extended to a second location in Lowell, MI (called Liam’s Be Cafe). Founder Jenny Cole opened up the first care in 2019 in honor of her son, who was born with Down syndrome. Both cafes primarily employ adults with developmental disabilities and those looking to apply can fill out a form online through the the cafe’s website.

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of Brody’s Be Cafe via Facebook.

Maggie’s Be Cafe

With the same mission of coffee with a purpose in mind, Maggie’s Be Cafe in Hudsonville, MI offers “meaningful employment to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a positive and uplifting environment.” Their “Be-Ristas” serve up everything from delicious pastries, coffee, and other beverages, along with select specialty items like Chick-fil-A sandwiches and Panera bread as well as gluten-free offerings. Maggie herself works at the cafe and the website states that Maggie is proud to be the “boss girl” of her cafe. Prospective employees can peruse the careers page on the cafe’s website and if you’re looking to get hired soon, you’re in luck, because there are immediate openings.

Charlie & Friends Diner LLC

Located in the small town of North Branch, where nary a stop sign or traffic light lives, Charlie & Friends may be one of only a handful of small restaurants in the area, but they serve a larger mission of “building a safe and loving environment for some of our most vulnerable individuals.” The local diner serves up breakfast, and lunch, and is especially known for their delicious pizzas, as well as the service they provide to the community.

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of Charlie & Friends Diner LLC via Facebook.

Torch 180 Café and Coffee Shop

As a cafe and coffee shop, Torch 180 has been providing training in the food industry for adults with disabilities since 2016. The restaurant was recently chosen as a Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI) site to become a state career development training site. The cafe says its mission is to provide inclusive opportunities for effective vocational training, soft skills, and work experience for individuals with disadvantages. An impressive 90% of their former students are employed after going through the program and the cafe offers many special projects like comfort boxes, fundraisers, and special events.

Bitty & Beau’s

Bitty & Beau’s is a national chain coffee company with new locations sprouting up across the nation, including one in Ann Arbor, MI. And while they serve great coffee, they also have a larger mission at hand: to celebrate those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. According to their website, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is a “human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop” and a place where “place where diversity isn’t just appreciated, it’s celebrated.” Bitty & Beau’s Coffee currently employs 400+ individuals with disabilities nationwide and prospective employees can fill out an interest form to be contacted if there are openings near them.

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee via Facebook.

Anastasia and Katie’s Coffee Shop & Cafe

This Livonia, MI cafe is part of the employment program through MI Work Matters, which places employees both with and without disabilities for on-the-job training in a welcoming and inclusive setting. Individuals with disabilities learn key job skills, earn a paycheck, and gain confidence, all while serving up delicious cups of coffee, hot tea, breakfast, and lunch.

Soul Cafe

Soul Cafe in West Bloomfield, MI is part of an amazing organization called the Friendship Circle, founded by husband and wife owners Bassie and Levi Shemtov for the express purpose of empowering young people with disabilities specifically through meaningful employment. They started the Soul Center, which has a painting and ceramics studio; extended it into the Soul Cafe, a popular and delicious breakfast and lunch destination; and recently acquired Dakota Bread Company. They have a vast network of resources and offer many different “Soul Services” and programs including catering, a full training facility, and a friendship house.

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of Soul Cafe via Facebook.

After 26 Depot

Located in Cadillac, MI, in a historic and renovated train depot, the After 26 Depot is a restaurant dedicated to employing adults with developmental disabilities and cognitive impairments. They chose their name because after the age of 26, adults with disabilities in Michigan “age out” of the public school system and may struggle with the next steps. Today, the restaurant serves up breakfast and lunch and employs 17 project workers who help with vital tasks serving customers and maintaining the restaurant.

14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities

Photo courtesy of After 26 Depot Cafe via Facebook.

Junction of Hope

As America’s first nonprofit 501(c)3 restaurant., Junction of Hope — located in Saginaw, MI — says its mission is to employ adults with special needs in Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Genesee Counties. The nonprofit explains that the name Hope comes from what the word means to them and the individuals they partner with: Happiness in gaining a positive mental outlook, Opportunity to perform in meaningful work, Perseverance to get the job done, and Empowerment through working a day’s work well. The restaurant serves up everything from breakfast to dinner and of course, delicious desserts to end the day with a sweet treat.

The Michigan Talent Acquisition Portal

The Michigan Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP) is part of the Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), which works with individuals with disabilities, helping them train and find jobs specific to their specific strengths and interests. The TAP system is invite-only, but it is a specific job board system that matches individuals with disabilities to employers offering positions that are disability-friendly. You can’t browse TAP without an invite, but you can request access on the TAP website to get paired with a local vocational rehabilitation office.

Disability Network / Michigan

The Disability Network of Michigan actively promotes, sources, and works with people who have varying disabilities to help them secure and maintain employment, as well as working on various advocacy efforts throughout the state. The network also has its own career page with several offerings, so individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply directly to the network as well.

Frito Lay

Frito Lay, the snack manufacturer that’s owned by parent company PepsiCo, has several presences in Michigan, including Bad Axe and Ann Arbor, and the company is dedicated to hiring people with disabilities. The Frito Lay website explains that PepsiCo has a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG), called EnAble: “We use the term ‘different abilities’ to evoke a sense of inclusion and recognize the broad spectrum of value that varying abilities bring to our company. EnAble provides resources for associates with different abilities, as well as those that care for them. This can include technology-based productivity tools, education, and more.”

Prospective employees can browse FritoLay’s career page for current job offerings and if accommodation is needed, email [email protected] through the job-seeking process as well.

Sysco Foods

Sysco Foods is a food-based company recently spotlighted by the MRS as a company actively recruiting individuals with disabilities. Sysco Foods offers careers in things like transportation, warehouse fulfillment, sales, maintenance, merchandise, technology, and much more. They were voted one of America’s most responsible and well-loved companies, as well as a top Diversity Employer by DiversityJobs for the 2nd consecutive year in 2021.


McLaren, which owns several healthcare facilities and organizations within Michigan, including hospitals and other medical offices, actively hires individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities can apply on the career pages through McLaren and the company also encourages anyone with specific disabilities to reach out to the Human Resources department of the facility they are hoping to find employment with for more specific accommodations and guidance. (You can find the HR department information here.)

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities14 MI businesses that employ adults with developmental disabilities


  • Chaunie Brusie

    Chaunie Brusie is a mom of five, a native Michigander, and a Registered Nurse turned writer and editor. She specializes in health and medical writing. Her work has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to Glamour to Parents magazine.



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