When Lindsay Wrege and Michael Evans met as undergraduate students at NC State in 2017, neither of them had a background in coffee. They didn’t even drink coffee.
Determined to start a business focused on employing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, 321 Coffee was born. The duo rented folding tables from Talley Student Union and set up shop at a Special Olympics unified Wolfpack football game. Lindsay, Michael, and six volunteers poured Starbucks coffee into cups ordered from Amazon and pitched their business and vision of inclusion to whoever would listen. It wasn’t long before the idea caught on.
Five years later, 321 is opening itsfirst storefront this August on Hillsborough Street in the Bloc courtyard. The company has 55 employees working at two, soon to be three, locations in Raleigh. Team members Matthew, Amanda, Paul, and Sophie roast beans for four varieties of coffee. Michael has become 321’s coffee connoisseur. And Lindsay still doesn’t drink coffee.
321 Coffee’s first storefront will open in August. | Photo by 321 Coffee
Growing up in Cary, many of Lindsay’s closest friends were people with disabilities. “I saw what my friends were capable of and all that we were able to do together,” Lindsay said. “This was followed by the disappointing realization that it’s really tough for a lot of people — adults with disabilities in particular — to get a job and be a valued part of the workforce.”
Michael, whose mom was a teacher who worked with students in her school’s special education program, agreed that businesses need to be more inclusive. As an entrepreneur, he was drawn to 321’s business model and the potential to make an impact in the Raleigh community and beyond. (Michael’s mom retired in June and became 321’s 55th employee earlier this week.)
Look for Kyle at the State Farmers Market — he makes an excellent latte. | Photo by RALtoday
“We wanted to start 321 to create jobs for my friends and people like them,” Lindsay said. Some of those friends now work at 321, like Emma (a bilingual espresso queen), who she met in fourth grade, and Grace + Anna, who she met on a summer swim team.
So, why coffee? “Coffee is very conversational and it brings people together,” Lindsay said. “That is the root of what we’re trying to do — to create a space where anyone can come together, chat, and learn about each other and appreciate people for who they are.”
The imaginative baristas at 321 Coffee created a specialty “Oak Bourbon Latte” for Drink Up Week. Inspired by the City of Oaks, this sweet caramel latte is topped with whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
Click the link below to learn more about 321 Coffee’s vision + growth.
Beloved British Bakes | Sun., July 31 | 10 a.m. | Sur La Table, 4421 Six Forks Rd. | $89 | Work for that “Hollywood Handshake,” and learn how to make a trifle and an Eton mess.
Permian Monsters Lecture Series: We Ate Dinosaurs | Thurs., Aug. 11 | 7-8 p.m. | NC Museum of Natural Sciences | $10 | Learn about some of the strangest and most ferocious synapsids and how these unusual creatures evolved into mammals like us with Dr. Christian Kammerer of NCMNS.*
THE DESSERTERY | Sat., Nov. 19-Tues., Dec. 20 | 12-8 p.m. | Duke Energy Center For The Performing Arts, 2 E. South St. | Tickets from $15+ | This family-friendly dessert café will feature elaborate holiday décor, all-you-can-eat sweets and hot cocoa, and live entertainment on select nights. 🎄*
We have amonthly guide filled with events + activities you can plan for in advance. Click the button below to bookmark ideas for upcoming date nights, family outings, and time with friends.
Hampton Farms has been in biz for 75+ years, so you know they’ve got the snacking thing down. | Photo provided by Hampton Farms
We’re four days into RALtoday’s first Drink Up Week — and we’re loving every second. Here’s something else to add to your plate: Hampton Farms gourmet peanuts — because the only thing better than a drink is a drink + a snack.
Salt & Lime Cabo Grill is opening a second Raleigh restaurant this October. The new location (4800 Grove Barton Rd.) will feature all of its Baja-style Mexican food favorites + will have a private dining room for parties. 🌮
Drink Up Week
Dose Yoga and Smoothie Bar is offering a one-time code for our readers — use the code “DrinkUp” to redeem a free yoga class now through Sun., July 31. Bonus: Mention RALtoday at the cafe for a free smoothie. 🧘
Earlier this week, the Triangle Beagle Rescue of NCwelcomed79 of the ~4,000 beagles taken from Envigo breeding and research facility in Virginia to its rescue center. These pups will be available for adoption after they spend time in foster homes to decompress, rehab, and get medical care. (WRAL)
Raleigh Brewing is hiring an associate brewer to work in the production suite. An ideal candidate has one to two years of brewing or cellaring experience. Send your resume here to apply.
NC Statereleased its men’s soccer schedulethis week. The Wolfpack’s season begins at home on Sun., Aug. 14 against Queens University. ICYMI: The women’s soccer team kicks off its season on Mon., Aug. 8 against Ohio State. ⚽
It’s time to throw it back to the 1990s + make new friends.TheCrowded Table Club is hosting its second event on Thurs., Aug. 11 and this month’s theme is ‘90s Nostalgia. There will be gourmet pizza, ice breaker games, trivia + beaded friendship bracelet stations. Buy tickets here ($60). 💞
Let’s talk about Bruno + Anna. Disney On Ice is bringing “Frozen and Encanto” to PNC Arena from Dec. 7-Dec. 11. Both popular Disney movies will be adapted for the ice skating show. Purchase tickets for this family-fun event here. (WRAL)
US News named UNC Health Rex the No 3. Hospital in NC in a recent ranking. The 2022-2023 Best Hospitals list for the Raleigh area (including Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill) was determined based on performance in complex care + common procedures.
Academy Award-winner and Wake County school system graduate Ariana DeBose will be inducted into the county’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to the arts as an actress, singer, and dancer. Ariana will be officially inducted at the Stars of Education gala at the Raleigh Convention Center on Thurs., Oct. 20. (The News & Observer)
When beginning the journey of buying a home, getting pre-approved should be the least of anyone’s worries. Opendoor recently announced a financing app that enables consumers to get a mortgage pre-approval in less than two minutes. It’s currently available to CA customers, with availability in additional states coming soon. 🏡 *
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Elaine’s Teas — a specialty tea store based in the Triangle area — created three Raleigh-inspired blends for Drink Up Week. The Raleigh Drop includes Meet me at Woody’s, City of Jerks, and False Fall. All three can be enjoyed hot, cold, or iced. Sip, sip, hooray!
Pro tip: Use code “DRINKUPWEEK” at checkout for a buy two get one free deal from this collection.
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Editor’s pick: Today is Watermelon Day at the State Farmers Market. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., there will be free watermelon slices + recipes, watermelon treats, face painting + more. I’m most excited about the largest watermelon contest — weigh-in is at 12 p.m. and thewinner will take home $1,000. Make sure to visit our friends at 321 Coffee while you’re there. 🍉
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