Locally owned PJ’s will celebrate three years of serving community in April

Published 9:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — PJ’s Coffee was started in New Orleans but the Brookhaven franchise is locally owned and operated by John, Carmen and Angie Lambert. They opened in April 2021 as COVID started to settle down and are now on the brink of a new era in Brookhaven’s history. 

Just down Brookway Boulevard, Starbucks is nearing completion and will bring another coffee shop to Lincoln County. It is unknown how the corporate owned Starbucks location will affect local owned coffee shops like PJ’s. 

Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year winner for 2022 was the only coffee shop option in Brookhaven open to the public in 2021. Angie said she was surprised when the company was named the Business of the year. 

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“It was a shock. I didn’t think we would win compared to all the other businesses in town. I was very excited. It was a proud moment and a feeling like we had made it,” Angie said. “The chamber is big in this town. I think other towns don’t have the support we do from their chamber of commerce. Those girls at the chamber do a good job.” 

She said Girls Night Out and Christmas Open House are traditionally their strongest days of the year. On April 4, Brookhaven will host its Taste of the Trust event. PJ’s will have a table there and will serve coffee and other goodies. Angie said she is excited for the event. 

Start of a new era

Wildfox Coffee, The Rabbit Hole Brew and Infusion and Vintage Style opened after PJ’s. Angie said she liked that there were different coffee shops in town because everyone offers something different. 

“I had this gut feeling that Brookhaven needed this. I wanted to bring something new to town,” Angie said. “It was crazy when we first opened. People wanted and needed coffee. It was like Field of Dreams. If you build it they will come.” 

It is not known why Starbucks wants to come to Brookhaven because the company never gave an answer to questions sent to them by The Daily Leader. 

Angie on the other hand spent 17 years serving the local community as an X-ray technician at King’s Daughters Medical Center. She has lived in Brookhaven for 25 years. Her reason to start the progress of opening a coffee shop in 2020 remains the same today. She wants to serve. 

“If we can be, we will be here to serve,” Angie said. “I think we were meant to be here in God’s plan. All of the road blocks we had in opening during COVID. I tried to rush it and learned patience. I was trying to rush it and I felt like I had to get it opened. It was God’s timing. I think we will continue to figure out His lesson. With Starbucks coming to town, I have faith we will be fine. I’m going to give them a run for their money.” 

Angie believes PJ’s has built up enough loyal customers to compete with Starbucks. Before she opened the shop she told The Daily Leader in 2020 she wanted to have morning regulars come in and they do. 

Once a week, a group of ladies stop by the shop. Baristas can recognize their vehicles and know their order before they even step up to the counter. Angie said they have several people who come in, order a drink and work using the shop’s WFI on a regular basis. It is what she wanted when they opened. 

During Hurricane Ida, PJ’s had plenty of customers come in from Louisiana. She said she told her employees to stay home and worked the rush with her husband and daughter. They did the same for this week’s ice storm. PJ’s opened Tuesday and was one of a few businesses open on the Boulevard. 

PJ’s supports local schools and charities. Readers can likely find a PJ’s logo sponsoring athletics at different schools across the county.

Angie said she tries to hire employees from the different schools in the area and some of the workers are students at Co-Lin Community College. She owns the PJ’s at Co-Lin and calls it a sister store. Her daughter Carmen and niece Morgyn Brister will run the Co-Lin location next year.

PJ’s is not the only locally owned franchise doing business in Brookhaven. Huey Magoos is locally owned and Lance Newman owns Tropical Smoothie and Zaxbys. Angie said she tries to support local businesses and always has. 

“Local people support local schools and charities. It is what we do and it is what your local retailers do. I wanted to be able to support people like that,” Angie said. 

Celebrate Mardi Gras

People can have a taste of New Orleans in Brookhaven and experience Mardi Gras on the Boulevard. PJ’s sells beignets year round but is offering king cake to celebrate the holiday. Angie said the king cake comes from Caluda’s bakery in New Orleans. 

Beads will be passed out with the king cakes and on Fat Tuesday, February 13, PJ’s will be passing out beads all day. Angie quipped that at PJ’s every day is Mardi Gras.

Customers can order a limited time offer of Mardi Gras Latte. It is made with cinnamon and vanilla, and comes to order as hot, iced, velvet ice or granita. PJ’s is selling King Cake Coffee Beans too. Angie said PJ’s uses small batch roast for products. 

It is the third Mardi Gras season for Brookhaven’s at PJ’s coffee shop. Angie said she wanted to open in 2021 in time for Mardi Gras but was unable to. Hopefully, there will be many more Mardi Gras seasons to come. 

“We are local and have worked and lived here for a long time. We try to do what we can,” Angie said. “We love our town. We want to stay here.”