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From Barista to Award-Winning Manager: Meet Victoria Thigpen

By: PJ's Coffee
Category:PJ's Coffee Franchisees

When Victoria Thigpen was hired as a barista at the PJ’s Coffee in Picayune, Miss., she didn’t quite know what her future would hold. She was planning on brewing up our savory southern flavors until she got back on her feet, but the universe had better things in store.

As it turns out, her manager was becoming a mom, and before Victoria knew it, she was promoted to take over. Today, after nearly a decade, Victoria is celebrating her biggest achievement yet; being the first recipient ever of PJ’s Coffee Phyllis Jordan award.

Victoria & Phyllis

Working Her Way Up the PJ’s Coffee Franchise

Before Victoria began working at PJ’s Coffee, she worked as a waitress and was not the biggest “coffee person”. According to her, what made our award-winning franchise stand out was our southern hospitality mixed with “the best coffee she’s ever tasted.” Since then, she’s become a self-proclaimed “coffee addict” and is proud of every unique, mouth-watering cup of joe she serves.

Over the years, Victoria’s loved working at PJ’s Coffee so much that she’s worn many hats! After stepping up from a barista to assistant manager, she was then promoted to manager and continued in that role for eight years. It was 2019 when decided to “take the leap” to become a franchise business consultant at the PJ’s Coffee corporate office.

She loved to help aspiring franchisees bring their entrepreneurial dreams to life, and she did just that for a year and a half before returning as a multi-unit general manager for the PJ’s Coffee locations in Picayune, Ocean Springs and D’Iberville, Miss. as well as Covington and Slidell, La.

Becoming an Award-Winning Manager

When Phyllis Jordan founded PJ’s Coffee in 1978, she did so with the belief that the pure passion for coffee-making mattered. That is something Victoria embodies every day. 

The PJ’s Coffee corporate team created the Phyllis Jordan award to recognize female leaders within the franchise system who are doing remarkable work running their stores and making a positive impact on others. From serving our customers to going above and beyond in assisting our local communities and pushing limits and boundaries for the common good, this award recognizes a woman whose exceptional efforts today are paving the way for the PJ’s brand and the women of tomorrow.​

As the award’s first-ever winner, Victoria is honored to have been recognized with a namesake that means so much to her. She met Phyllis at a conference in 2018 and admired her so much that she even dressed up as her for Halloween one year. She was excited to meet Phyllis again at the award ceremony, but she certainly didn’t expect to be the winner.

“To me, winning meant that I represent PJ’s Coffee the way it’s supposed to be represented. I really was shocked, and I don’t think there’s any better award in existence that I could have won,” Victoria explained.

The Most Rewarding Part of All

Victoria is so honored to have been recognized for her hard work and dedication, but nothing compares to how rewarding her job is every day. For her, the best part of it all has been the connections she’s made with her employees, guests, community members and fellow PJ’s Coffee leaders.

“I owe so much of my success to Barry,” she says, speaking of Barry Predergast, the multi-unit franchisee who owns all five of the locations she currently runs. “He taught me everything I know and truly became like a father to me.”

When asked what her best advice is for other female leaders in the franchising industry, she emphasized the importance of simply being present. 

“People want to see the faces behind the business. It makes them feel at home when they see it’s not just a ‘big corporation run by people in an office somewhere.’ All our locations are locally owned and operated, and there’s a reason we’re known for our southern hospitality.”

While Victoria’s already come so far with the PJ’s Coffee franchise, she’s always looking ahead to what’s next. Her biggest long-term goal is to open at least one PJ’s Coffee location of her own.

“I get to wake up every single day and do what I love,” she explained. “Of course, it’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. If I could be at all of her locations and serve every single customer, I would,” she explained.

Are you looking to join a franchise that offers plenty of growth opportunities and recognizes those who go above and beyond? Contact us today to learn more about opening a PJ’s Coffee in your area.

  • $910,706*

    Average Unit
    Volume (AUV)

  • 18.8%

    Same-Store Sales Increase

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Invest in the Best
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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: 1,200sqft - 2,000sqft
    • Initial Franchise Fee: $35K
    • Initial Investment: $406,000- $1,024,000
  • 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: $191,875 - $486,500
  • 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
  • The biggest lesson I've learned with PJ's Coffee is that you're going to get out of it, what you put into it. Buying a franchise doesn't necessarily mean you're going to reach instant success. The more work you put into it, the more successful you'll be. - Aubry Miller
  • 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
  • Bobby and Kristy Mounts win Rookie Franchisee of the Year Award for PJ’s Coffee at the 2022 IFA Read More
  • From Barista to Award-Winning Manager: Meet Victoria Thigpen Read More
  • How PJ's Coffee Is Boosting Franchisee Unit-Level Economics with New Beignets Initiative Read More
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