Open Accessibility Menu

Franchisee Spotlight: How They Got Started

By: PJ's Coffee

Category:PJ's Coffee Franchisees

At PJ’s Coffee, we have an unwavering commitment not only to our customers but also to our local owners. When partnering with new franchisees, we work to ensure a seamless process by crafting solid relationships and providing the resources and insights necessary for them to succeed as new store owners and operators. This experience is particularly true for local operators Tance Hughes of Natchez, Mississippi, and husband-wife duo Smanvi Gudur and Raj Poloju of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Tance, with his entrepreneurial spirit, found it easy to get started with PJ’s. It felt like second nature to him. In addition to the backing of his partners — his brother Seth and local business owner Dallas Morris — and the support of community members, our corporate team also assisted him in getting the new store up and running.

Smanvi Gudur and Raj Poloju can also testify to the support from the PJ’s team, along with the valuable advice and wisdom given by Smanvi’s uncle, a franchise operator for a different chain.

Tance and his partners, as well as Smanvi and Raj, value being in business for themselves but not by themselves. Therefore, when they came across a company offering a successful business model with some creative freedom, they were eager to become PJ’s store owners.

A Louisiana native, Tance started his first company when he was only 17, an e-commerce brand centered around printing and signage. Eventually, the company moved into a former Kmart building, which gave Tance the idea to open a coffee shop at the front of the store and introduced him to the coffee business.

Initially considering investing in a local coffee business, Tance decided to join the PJ’s Coffee family instead. Although the beginning was challenging, like any new business, he and his partners persevered through the uncertainties of the COVID era. They changed locations due to property restrictions and ended up opening their PJ’s at a former Smoothie King location. With the help of their project management and real estate teams, they turned this challenge into an opportunity by focusing on the drive-thru aspect and taking advantage of the abundant storage space on-site.

“We had a hurdle with investing, but we are efficient with the space that we have,” said Tance. “Even with the expected new business difficulties along the way, we never got discouraged. Instead, the pillar of support we received from PJ’s helped us to remember our overarching goal: we’re not just in the business, but on the business — we want to advance it.”

Smanvi and Raj were not immune to the hurdles of becoming franchise owners either. Rather than joining her uncle’s business, Smanvi wanted to be a part of a brand that offered a more exciting experience for guests and herself. After joining PJ’s as franchisees, Smanvi and Raj understood how important it was to find the right real estate for their business — they ultimately found a great location well positioned in the Alexandria market, which has allowed them to be highly successful.

With a shared background in the medical field, the couple was able to seamlessly adapt to their demanding lifestyle of long days as they worked tirelessly to launch and build a successful business. Nonetheless, they wouldn’t trade their work for anything in the world.

“We started to feel the need for a change when COVID-19 hit,” said Smanvi. “I had some knowledge of the franchise business because of my uncle, but I wanted something of our own — something my husband and I could share. We make the perfect team where I get to be the social one, constantly working alongside employees and handling day-to-day operations while he handles salaries and the business structure. It doesn’t get better than that.”

Both parties agree that PJ’s is unique from other major coffee shop brands due to its beignets. A fan-favorite in the local community, Tance says he sells the most beignets during the summer when kids are out of school and looking for a sweet treat. During this time, beignets account for an average of 12% of his store’s sales. Smanvi and Raj, on the other hand, boast a higher number at 33%. Their location was even voted “Best Beignets in Town.”

A Glimpse Ahead

The future is bright for these franchise owners as Tance and the power couple Smanvi and Raj plan to expand by opening additional PJ’s locations soon.

Tance and his partners are working on branching out of Mississippi by opening a new PJ’s Coffee location on the Louisiana side of the Natchez area. Equipped with an understanding of the small community dynamic, they have complete confidence that their second store will be successful. According to Tance, including Smanvi and Raj, the most valuable step to becoming a franchisee is to research the company, the brand culture and the people involved.

For Smanvi and Raj, achieving great success at their first PJ’s store in Alexandria has encouraged them to start working on opening a second location later this year. Smanvi looks forward to this next chapter in her and Raj’s journey with PJ’s, hoping prospective franchisees consider the value of working with a brand that gives owners an excellent opportunity to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship.

To learn more about PJ’s Coffee and explore franchise opportunities, visit

  • $1,042,644*

    Average Unit
    Volume (AUV)

  • 19.8%

    4-year Same-Store

    Sales Increase

Invest in the Best
  • Direct Trade
  • Fair Trade
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Kosher
  • Halal
  • USDA Organic
  • Top Food Franchises
  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Franked 2022
  • FBR top franchises 2022
Invest in the Best
  • Top Brand For Multi-Unit Owners 2024 Entrepreneur
  • FranServe 2024 Fran-Tastic Brand
  • Entrepreneur 2024 Franchise 500 Ranked
  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 2023 Top Franchise for Veterans
  • Franchise Times Top 400
  • Entrepreneur 2023 Franchise 500 Top Brand for Multi-Unit Owners
  • Franchise Business Review 2023 Top Franchise Satisfaction Award
  • Entrepreneur 2023 Franchise 500
  • Entrepreneur 2022 Top Franchises for Veterans
  • Franchise 500 Top Food Franchise 2022
  • FBR top franchises 2022
  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Franked 2022
  • Franchise Business Review
  • Top Food Franchises
  • Fast Casual
  • Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Ranked 2021
  • Vet Fran
  • SBAReady
  • International Franchise Association
  • National Restaurant Association
Learn More About Our Available Markets

Want to bring the PJ’s community to your community?
We have opportunities around the country.

View Map
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
  • Understanding the PJ’s Coffee Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) Read More
  • PJ’s Coffee Eighth Annual Veteran Franchise Giveaway: A Path to Business Ownership Read More
  • How Much Does it Cost to Open a Coffee Shop? Read More
View All Posts
Become a PJ's Coffee Franchise Owner!
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • This isn't a valid phone number.
    Please enter your phone number.
  • Please enter your city.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter your zip code.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please make a selection.
*indicates required fields
View Privacy Policy