This delightful coffee shop proudly employs team members who have intellectual and developmental diversities

In New York, there’s a special coffee shop where every cup you buy helps people with intellectual and developmental differences.

It’s the first one from Cafe Joyeux, a European company. They hire people with these differences and give them training and jobs.

It’s heartwarming to see everyday people supporting their neighbors with different abilities. Together, they’re showing how important community and meaningful work are for everyone.


At Cafe Joyeux, everyone is treated the same, whether they have autism or Down Syndrome.

According to Rachael Barcelona, this fair treatment has changed lives for the better.

“I’ve faced countless rejections and been made to feel like a burden because of my autism,” she shared, expressing her surprise when someone extended a job offer to her, “and they were even going to pay me!”

Cafe Joyeux started in France because they noticed a big problem in the US: over 8 million people with intellectual and developmental differences struggle to find jobs, with a shocking 80% unemployment rate.


The coffee shop wants to fight this unfairness by not only
giving jobs to everyone but also by showing other workplaces how to include
everyone better.

The story begins on a sailing boat in Brittany, France.
Captain Yann Bucaille-Lanzerac, who’s a successful businessperson, loves
sailing and takes people of all abilities on his boat to share his passion.

While on a trip, Theo, a young man with Down Syndrome, asks
Yann for a job. Yann feels unsure, saying it’s difficult, which leaves Theo


This meeting led to the birth of Cafe Joyeux.

Cafe Joyeux started in France in 2017, hiring and teaching people with mental and cognitive differences.

It has grown to over 19 places all over Europe.

In early 2024, the first Cafe Joyeux in the US opened in New York City.

Bucaille-Lanrezac and his wife, Lydwine Bucaille, who started Cafe Joyeux, employ 169 team members with disabilities in Europe, according to France 24.


He views the New York branch as a project for Americans, set in a typical American location near Grand Central Station. He doesn’t want to sound like he’s teaching Americans about the project.

The founder explained “We received assistance from experts who specialize in inclusion, neurodiversity, and cognitive disabilities, specifically AHRC and Autism Speaks. These organizations have been working in New York for many years and are helping us support our employees.”

Bucaille-Lanrezac hired a director and supervisors without disabilities to oversee a team of 14 staff members who have autism, Down syndrome, and cognitive disabilities.

He wants to make a mark in the fast-casual food industry, especially since there’s a shortage of workers after Covid-19.


Peter Anderson Jr., who is in his twenties, works as a waiter, dishwasher, and barista.

He pointed out how there aren’t many job options for people with disabilities in other places. He emphasized how important it is for everyone to have the same rights and fair treatment at work.

Bucaille-Lanrezac is optimistic about his team in New York doing well in a city where customers can be very demanding.

Cafe Joyeux in the US is a nonprofit organization that’s focused on including people with disabilities.


They begin by supporting and uplifting their cafe-restaurant workers, and they put all their profits back into this goal, both inside and outside their cafes.

He thinks they can offer great products and services.

Early supporters, like Giovana Mullins, have complimented Cafe Joyeux for its friendly environment, saying it’s different from the less personal service you might get at big coffee chains in New York.

“When you step inside, you can feel the happiness and positivity, even if you don’t know what the shop is about,” she explained.

Hiring workers with disabilities has more benefits.

Hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) is good for businesses. Research indicates that individuals with disabilities are safety-conscious, have fewer days off, are very driven, and are more productive.


They usually stay longer and do well in different jobs.

Plus, having them on the team makes the workplace more inclusive, which makes the company look good to the public and improves its reputation.

People like businesses that value diversity, making the company more appealing to employees, customers, and partners.

Shawna Berger, from the US Business Leadership Network, said that companies that include people with disabilities have noticed good things happening. They’ve seen that it leads to more profits, happier employees, and better work. These companies have fewer people leaving their jobs, fewer accidents, more new ideas, and people with disabilities working harder.

She also mentioned that companies dealing directly with customers benefit from the loyalty of the large group of 56.7 million Americans with disabilities.


Hiring workers with IDD brings many advantages to businesses, like saving money and following the law.

Employers can get tax breaks for making their workplaces accessible.

Workers with disabilities often stay longer in their jobs, so companies save money on hiring new staff.

Studies show that companies that hire people with disabilities have happier and more productive workers, which helps them make more money.

Also, people with disabilities often have good problem-solving abilities and can adjust well to different situations.

You can see what it’s like inside Café Joyeux by watching the video below.