New Annapolis gelato shop employs people with down syndrome

La Marmotta Gelateria, a pop-up gelato shop that’s open two days a week at Annapolis Town Center, provides employment for individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

The shop, in front of True Food Kitchen, teaches its employees how to make authentic gelato from traditional Italian recipes, with a mission to help them realize their full potential and become meaningful contributors.

The locally-owned business has a second location at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe, Maryland.

Owner Francesco Brown, whose brother has Down syndrome, moved to Italy after college to work at an artisanal Gelateria and learn the art. La Marmotta’s gelatos are made with organic, locally sourced milk.

“I was inspired to create a business that could provide work and community for my brother and other individuals with Down syndrome. I also found it hard to find authentic gelato in our area,” Brown said.

The Annapolis Town Center Gelateria is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Its products are also served at Annapolis Town Center events this summer.

The mission is similar to Wilmington, North Carolina-based coffee shop Bitty & Beau’s, which employs primarily people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It also has a location in Annapolis, and opened its first D.C. location in Georgetown last fall. It has franchise locations in several other cities.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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