Inside the former Golden Fog Coffee space, Taylor Gardner Chaney, the owner of Dig It Coffee Co, is all about serving coffee and sweet drinks while also fostering inclusion for adults with disabilities.
On the coffee shop’s menu, customers will find charcuterie boards, sandwiches, teas, lemonades, fruit smoothies, pastries, and coffee — which she sources locally from Dark Moon Coffee Roasters. There’s the dirt cup latte with chocolate, Oreo crumbles, whipped cream, and a gummy worm. And fluffer nutter lattes that taste like peanut butter and marshmallow. The gummy bear lemonade is fruity with a light pink color, and the sugar cookie matcha has fun holiday sprinkles.
It took two years before Chaney found the location nestled in the Las Vegas Arts District in the lower level of the Share Downtown apartment complex. She chose the site because it’s “funky, eclectic, and artistic,” she says, and she thinks visitors there would be more open to the idea of a cafe staffed in part by baristas with disabilities such as Down syndrome.
While Chaney hires people of all abilities, she’s most proud of providing all employees a wage of between $10.50 and $14 an hour, plus tips. “I knew that I wanted to create opportunities, the same opportunities I have, or you have, for them to be able to take home a real paycheck,” she says. “I knew this was going to be the end goal.”
Outside of her work for the coffee shop, Chaney runs the Garden Foundation non-profit organization. Inspired by her younger sister who was born with Down syndrome, Chaney founded the organization which serves adults living with disabilities in Las Vegas. Chaney says that the people her organization serves have told her heartbreaking stories about their work experiences. “They’re either sheltered, secluded, and they’re paid a sub-minimum wage,” Chaney says, “which is less than minimum wage for piecemeal work.” But at Dig It, these adults work within the community and earn a real paycheck.
Inside the shop, “Not Typical” is displayed in bright lights, affixed to an Instagram-worthy interior wall with large alternating-colored squares, two black-and-white checkered chairs, a retro-looking TV, and disco balls drooping down like chandeliers. Everything from the coffee cup sleeve to the latte art celebrates the message of “serving kindness, coffee, and inclusion.”
The other side of the shop features a mural of rapper 2 Chainz and a one-line lyric, “I’m different, yeah, I’m different,” from his song “I’m Different.” It was created by muralist Miscre8 and Derek Douglas (a.k.a. SNIPT), a Las Vegas artist and cofounder of former tenant Golden Fog Coffee. Even though the Douglases have stepped away as owners, their presence is still felt within the shop. “I still feel like a piece of him is still here,” Chaney says. “He was so supportive.”
Since Dig It is at staffing capacity, Chaney plans to expand to the west coast to create more job opportunities, and hopes other businesses will adopt a more inclusive work environment. She says some companies only hire adults with disabilities, but Chaney believes hiring both neurotypical employees and adults with disabilities helps break down the barrier and the stigma. “These people aren’t that different from us,” she says.
Dig It Coffee Co is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1300 South Casino Center Boulevard.