By Emma Castleberry
This fall, Pete Brewer is hoping to open the doors of Asheville’s newest ice cream shop, Howdy Homemade Ice Cream at 64 Long Shoals Road. Brewer and his wife Betsy have two daughters, and their youngest has autism. “We’ve known for quite a few years that we were going to start a business so that Annie would have a landing spot,” says Brewer. In 2019, a colleague of Brewer’s turned him on to Howdy Homemade, an ice cream shop in Dallas started by Tom Landis with the mission of providing employment opportunities for people with special needs. After meeting Landis, Brewer signed a franchise agreement for an Asheville location of Howdy Homemade in March 2020. “Before the ink had dried, the COVID lockdowns set in,” says Brewer. “But now we’re back at it.”
There is an unemployment rate of more than 80 percent among people with special needs in the US. “You have a large segment of our society who are chock-full of potential that is untapped,” says Brewer. “We’re all in this together. So how do we as a collective group help each individual, regardless of their challenges, realize their full potential?” Brewer explains that the mission of Howdy Homemade is not to simply employ people with differing abilities but also to inspire “companies all across this country to rethink the value that special needs employees can add to their business.”
Brewer says he’s already getting calls from people interested in both employment and having Howdy Homemade sell at their events. Their new location, directly in front of TC Roberson High School, is intentional. Howdy Homemade will have an internship program with the high school, allowing students to walk from school across the parking lot to work. “Our goal is to be interwoven into the fabric of the community,” says Brewer.
For more information, email Brewer at email@example.com.