Man with autism starts his own business after no one else would hire him

By: Ellie Romano


Twitter: @ERomanoABC6

N. SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WLNE) – A new business in North Smithfield is spreading awareness on the importance of hiring people with disabilities.

The coffee shop Red, White & Brew is run by Michael Coyne, who has autism. He started the business after he struggled to find a job. 

“After I turned 21 I applied to multiple places. None of them would hire me,” said Coyne. 

His mother, Sheila Coyne, suggested he look into an alternative way to find employment. 

“It’s not easy for parents to watch your kid sit around the kitchen table while everyone else is enjoying life and coworkers, and talking about their day,” said Sheila Coyne.

Her son decided to take matters into his own hands. He enrolled in business classes through the state’s Developmental Disabilities Council. He was then ready to open his coffee shop. 

“We’ve been very busy,” said Coyne. “It’s been fun.”

The business has been open less than two weeks and has already become a haven for other families who have children with disabilities. 

“We’ve had parents come in with tears in their eyes with the hope that their young children will eventually be accepted into the community,” said Coyne’s mother. 

Down the line, Coyne said he wants to hire others with special needs to spread the message that people with disabilities are hard workers too.

On the other side of the gift shop is a craft store called Budding Violet. There you can purchase homemade products, many of which are created by artists with disabilities.

The shop is located at 601 Great RdNorth Smithfield, RI 02896. It’s open seven days a week during the following hours: 

Mon. – Wed.: 6:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Thursday: 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019