Bittersweet closing of coffee shop that empowered employees with disabilities on Long Island

PORT WASHINGTON, Long Island (WABC) -- There was a bittersweet closing of a coffee shop on Long Island Thursday.

The cafe wasn't about making money. In fact, it took big losses.

It was about empowering its employees who have disabilities.

A coffee with milk and sugar was just a regular part of the routine in Port Washington for eight years, until now.

The place was first called Sweet Comfort, but for the past few years it was operated by a company called CofFeed.

The premise is that 80-percent of the staff has some sort of disability.

"I am working with Down disability, with Down Syndrome," said Jamie Comer, CofFeed employee.

Workers like Jamie Comer are building confidence each and every day.

Their wages were subsidized by a Westbury non-profit.

CofFeed took on the partnership to help run it, even donating some revenue to charity, but that's meant a loss of about $50,000 a year.

CofFeed is located on Irma Avenue. It's a side street in Port Washington.

Like other small businesses, it was hard to compete with the big ones on Main Street.

"It never made money. But the point, we had a social mission and we were able to attain that," said Eileen Egan, Community Mainstreaming Associates, Inc.

So this is closing day.

"Maybe I'll see you soon," a worker said.

But that won't stop these guys who have the best work ethic around.

Adam already has a second job at Stop & Shop, Jamie at Burger King and Paul Marcellino has interviewed at both Target and the local movie theater.

"Are you a hard worker?" Eyewitness News Reporter Stacey Sager asked.

"Matter of fact, yeah, so the movie theater just might be good for me," Marcellino said.

For their boss it has been eight years of insight about those who can cope with challenges far better than most.

"Everybody has a little disability, and the guy with road rage probably shouldn't be driving but he is," said Abe King, CofFeed manager.

He says eight years has been a good run here. Good to the last drop.
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