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New coffee shop bringing hugs and life lessons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Java Joy's menu may be small but the lesson behind the cup is a lot bigger.

ATLANTA — For the first time, a coffee shop is open inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium and it's entirely run by adults with developmental disabilities.

Java Joy's menu may be small but the lesson behind the cup is a lot bigger.

"They get to see a different side of seeing what people with disabilities do in everyday life," said Liz Cicerchia, an employee at Java Joy.

Liz and her coworkers love to show people how much they love what they do, but the new partnership with Mercedes-Benz Stadium is important to the athletes who play there.

"The energy they're bringing into the stands and into the stadium will encourage us," said Atlanta United team captain Brad Guzan.  

It's important to the people who founded the company, too. 

"Maybe it changed by perspective, maybe I'll hire them for my business, maybe I will befriend someone in my neighborhood who looks or acts a little differently. It's inclusion at its finest and it's happening here at the stadium," Java Joy executive director Laura Whitaker added. 

She says 87% of adults with disabilities are unemployed but businesses like hers prove that number should be much lower. 

The Java Joy Atlanta Coordinator, Trent Bauer, says the business is meaningful on so many levels. 

"It's awesome for these individuals to have meaningful employment and we get to provide people with an amazing cup of coffee. It gives people a great opportunity to interact with someone with developmental disabilities, and they get an awesome cup of coffee." 

The workers at Java Joy offer each customer a cup of coffee, hot or cold. And after they pay? A hug, free of charge. 

The Joyristas will be in section 116 for every home game at MBS, and they want you to make their coffee shop your first stop. 


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