OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The newest location of ‘Not Your Average Joe’ coffee opened at 7:30 on a cold, Tuesday morning.

Barristas like Julie Wheelanne kept the long lines moving with a steady stream of espresso and steamed milk. Cashiers like Ashlynn Pickett were on hand at the register to make sure orders got to the people who needed them.

On this particular morning, Joe’s founder Tim Herbel came in to shout orders above the din.

He shouts, “One, oatmeal, vanilla latte served with a lot of love right here!”

Ask Tim why he came up with the idea for Not Your Average Joe in early 2019 and he can tell you quickly about his special needs nephew who passed away never really getting the chance to enter society, to get a job, the make friends outside his own family.

“So we wanted a place where everybody could belong regardless of their abilities,” he continues. “We started Not Your Average Joe in Midtown OKC.”

Half the people working here on any given shift might have some type of intellectual disability. They’re paired with co-workers like Julie who help train and keep them on task.

She says, “It’s part of the job to be always training someone and everyone helps each other out.”

Tim adds, “Our model is side by side, inclusionary, meaningful, customer facing employment. You make your friends at work. I make my friends at work. That’s where we believe they should make their friends.”

Ashlyn had been thinking about getting a job for a few years already. She admits to still being a little shy with new customers (and reporters asking lots of questions).

But working in a place like this is exactly what she had in mind.

“Especially working at a coffee shop,” she tells us.

Wheelanne worked at a few coffee shops between here and Alaska, but could tell this job would be different in a good way.

“Everyone has a really good attitude here,” she says.

Downtown library officials, the OKC Chamber of Commerce, parents, and plenty of customers helped Ashlynn cut the ribbon on Joe #6, the next in what is likely to become even more.

The mission here: Include people of all abilities. The sign on the window, which reads ‘Exceptional Coffee, Even Better People’ is their guarantee.

For more information about Not Your Average Joe go to their website here.

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