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Honoring Heroes: PJ’s Coffee Welcomes U.S. Navy Veteran Rob Smith

By: PJ's Coffee

Category:Franchise Opportunities

At PJ's Coffee, our commitment to honoring the sacrifices made by our nation's heroes goes beyond words—it's a mission we live by. We take immense pride in supporting veterans and recognizing the exceptional qualifications and skills they bring to the table. This year, we are thrilled to welcome U.S. Navy veteran Rob Smith to the PJ’s Coffee family as the well-deserved winner of our seventh annual Veteran Franchise License Giveaway.

Rob's journey to becoming a PJ's Coffee franchisee is a testament to the power of connections, passion and a shared vision for success. A close friend, also a fellow Navy veteran and PJ's franchisee, introduced Rob to the opportunity through our newsletter. The connection was instantaneous. Impressed by the business model and products that PJ’s Coffee offers to ensure a franchisee is successful, Rob also signed on for three additional licenses.

Passion Meets Purpose: Brewing Success in Maryland

Originally from Jackson, Mississippi, Rob joined the U.S. Navy after completing his undergraduate studies in computer science at Kansas State University and Jackson State University. He credits his experiences in the Navy with developing leadership characteristics and other intangible skills that have been foundational strengths in his post-military career — he has served in supervisory and managerial capacities at small and large tech companies and finds gratification in the opportunity of leading people and strong team building. Additionally, Rob attends church regularly for spiritual fulfillment and enjoys physical fitness, martial arts training, singing and building relationships within his community.

His leadership philosophy and way of life, instilled through his military background and encapsulated in the acronym "POPPER" (Professionalism, Order, Processes and Procedures, Excellence, Relationships), reflects his commitment to fostering a positive, service-oriented and inclusive environment.

For Rob, owning a PJ's Coffee franchise is not just a business venture; it’s a calling to bring people together. His vision extends beyond a successful coffee shop — it’s about creating a haven for the community where people can relax, collaborate, find solace, and feel a sense of belonging, warmth and genuine connection.

“This seems like the perfect vehicle for how I imagine myself to ultimately be in life — to be able to bring people together from all different walks in the community,” Rob said. “A place where you know you’re going to be served well and treated well and be that place that the community looks to come to when it’s been a bad day or a long week. It’s been a mind-blowing, honorable process but also a huge blessing — a tremendous blessing.”

He plans to open his PJ’s Coffee franchise near his residence in Clinton, Maryland. His family, including his wife LaWanda and their two sons, Joshua and Gabriel, will play integral roles in the venture. LaWanda, with extensive banking and retail experience, will handle financial management and administration, while Rob focuses on building relationships with the community, including local churches and schools. The decision to involve their children in the business was a heartwarming surprise for the Smith family, with the general spirit of building a legacy.

Brewing Success for Veterans

As we congratulate Rob Smith on his well-deserved win, we remain dedicated to supporting veterans in their journey to franchise ownership. The annual Veteran Franchise License Giveaway remains a beacon of opportunity —it symbolizes a commitment to empowering veterans to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, allowing deserving veterans to fulfill their dreams within the thriving coffee industry.

However, our commitment to supporting veterans extends beyond the annual franchise giveaway. In fact, we were ranked #72 in Entrepreneur’s “2023 Top Franchises for Veterans,” and our U.S. Marine veteran franchisee Bobby Mounts shared his experiences of opening his own PJ’s Coffee.Our veteran franchisees like Bobby, Kyle McElhaney, Michael Adams and Angela Harmon have not only embraced the opportunity but have excelled within the PJ's Coffee system. The success stories of these veterans demonstrate the incredible potential and leadership skills that former military members bring to the franchise landscape.

To learn more about PJ’s Coffee and explore franchise opportunities, including our incentives for veterans, visit

  • $1,042,644*

    Average Unit
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  • 19.8%

    4-year Same-Store

    Sales Increase

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Investment Tiers
  • Traditional Model

    A larger scaled PJ's with a full service menu offering located within a strip mall or free-standing building likely featuring a drive-thru.

    • Size: 650sqft - 2,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $35K
    • Initial Investment: $459,000- $1,152,000
  • Non-Traditional Model

    A smaller scaled PJ's possibly with a limited menu offering located within another business - College/University Campuses, Healthcare Facilities, Hotels, Government Facilities, Military Bases, Airports, Shopping Malls, Etc.

    • Size: 250sqft - 1,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $25K
    • Initial Investment: $228,000 - $511,000
  • Multi-Unit Option Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to enter into a Multi-Unit Option Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated market. The initial franchise fee for the first PJ’s location is $35,000. Subsequent PJ’s Units receive a reduced franchise fee. The fee for each PJ’s Unit numbered two or greater is $10,000.

  • Master Franchise Agreements

    PJ's offers opportunities to International Franchisees to enter into a Master Franchise Agreement to develop multiple PJ's over a specified development schedule in a designated country or countries.

    • Initial Master Franchise Fee: $250k minimum (Varies depending on size of country or countries)
    • Total Investment: Varies depending on the number of PJ's developed
A Few More...
  • PJs has provided me with the flexibility to prioritize my day-to-day responsibilities. While demanding, the work/life balance I have been able to obtain while owning my locations is invaluable. PJ’s is a family-oriented brand and that is evident every day - we have great working, as well as personal, relationships with many folks at corporate. It truly is a family centered culture that I am excited to grow with! - Andrew Jones
  • We loved the products and the business model, and it all worked out so well. The ability to work with them is what sets them apart. They are very reasonable people and it’s a solid company. When we went to meet the team, everyone was super kind, and it was very apparent that they provide a ton of support to their franchisees. It’s important to feel like you can always reach out to somebody when needed. - Angela Harmon
  • I think if someone is looking for a franchise opportunity they should find something that fits their lifestyle. If you're a morning person, a coffee business might be good for you. I'm a morning person so waking up at 4 A.M. is fine, the whole 'wake up and smell the coffee' thing - that's me. - Anthony Satterlee
  • I decided to look into coffee and probably spent about 3 years doing the investigation. I decided on PJ's because the quality of the product is just head and shoulders above everybody else. - Tom Lewis
  • It's easy to be successful. You can become part of your community in a way you can't otherwise in a lot of other businesses. I would highly recommend it. - Polly Fisher
  • The best part of being a franchisee is the freedom. It gives you the opportunity to provide for your family, but also be a part of your family. It gives you time to play with your children or take a vacation, but still have a fantastic business. - Kelly Songy
  • I decided owning a PJ's Coffee shop was the way to go. From start to finish, corporate was there for me when I selected a location, ordered equipment and furniture. - Mateusz Dabrowski
  • I fell in love with PJs Coffee and the brand, years before I ever owned a location and now I own two! I wanted a business that, with the right staff, would be able to operate successfully without me having to be there all day every day. PJs coffee gives you that flexibility and freedom. I also love the family atmosphere that corporate provides and the camaraderie between franchisees is wonderful! You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself, and that is a great sense of comfort and security. I love this business!

    - Roxanne DeNicola
Featured Blogs
  • How PJ’s Coffee Is Driving Success Read More
  • A Heart for Heroes: Honoring Veterans with Franchise Ownership Opportunities, Remembering Fallen Service Members Read More
  • PJ’s Coffee Designs New Training Facility for Growth Efficiency Read More
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