Positively Buffalo: Grateful Grind brews up confidence in people with special needs

Positively Buffalo

A Buffalo coffee shop is brewing up confidence in people with special needs.

They’ve turned young men into master bakers and baristas.

The owners are also sending an important message… everyone is equal.

Blink while driving down Main Street in Buffalo and you might miss it.

But take a step inside the small kitchen at Grateful Grind Coffee and you’ll notice some amazing things.

“Shane, Tell me how they’re looking… They look good… are they done yet? No…”

Young men with special needs, learning how to cook and how to make a latte.

 “I make banana bread did I tell you that? It’s so good… I put cinnamon in!” said Shane Townsend, an employee of Grateful Grind.

Owner Angela Kunz worked in the human service field for 23 years at People INC.

This cafe has been her dream.

“I want everyone to feel as if they’re all included here. And everybody’s treated the same way and I think that’s also a very important part of it,” said Kunz.

For most business owners, it’s all about the money.

“For us it’s not. It’s a different sort of concept and philosophy. For me I want to give back and I want people to feel as if they’re worthy and I want them to do amazing things because we truly are,” said Kunz.

Angela and her crew are doing a great job.

“I feel really good and happy and cheerful,” said Shane.

 “I do this. I do the dishes. I pass out food,” said Nick Rice, an employee.

Grateful Grind has also been a place where people like Jaegar and Shane have had the opportunity to reconnect.

“We know each other from high school, yes!” said Shane.

We asked what it was like to see Jaegar again.

“Oh it was great,” Shane said excitedly.

“Honestly he’s like another employee to me. It’s just kind of like we have this bond and friendship and we just really connect. He comes right in and makes my Monday because he’s so happy and it makes me happy.  And I mean I don’t know if anyone else gets those Monday blues but they just go right away,” said Jaegar.

Jaegar says Shane’s ability to turn every customer’s day around is a gift.

“Me and Shane we come right up to the front and help people out and here he is asking how their day is and how they’re doing and they could turn from a bad mood and they’re smiling right then and there,” said Jaegar.

It’s a smile, but perhaps more importantly it’s a feeling.

A message that Angela and her husband hope catches on.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you want to do here – everybody’s equally accepted,” said co-owner Tom Kunz.

If you have a story about inspiring people doing good in your community, let us know.

Send an email to Melanie Orlins at positivelybuffalo@wivb.com

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