Spilling the beans

Famous New Orleans coffee shop grinding into San Antonio with 40 new locations

New Orleans coffee shop grinding into San Antonio with 40 locations

PJ's Coffee of New Orleans exterior
PJ's is famous in Louisiana for its nitro cold brew. PJ's Coffee/Facebook

If one New Orleans coffee shop gets its way, its purple logo may soon be as familiar to San Antonians as the Starbucks siren. On May 17, PJ’s Coffee announced ambitious expansion plans in Texas’ four largest cities — including a whopping 40 locations in Alamo City.

According to a release, the brand was established in 1978 by Phyllis Jordan, who opened the first PJ’s in New Orleans' Carrollton neighborhood.The coffee pioneer grew steadily until she opened it up to franchising in 1989 and then sold the operation to Ballard Brands in 2008.

“I could see the beginnings of coffee culture starting up in the Northwest,” Jordan said in earlier release. “I was using coffee and tea to get people to spend time together and sit together. No one else in town was doing that.”

Cold brew was also a new idea when Jordan founded her business, but the pioneering entrepreneur developed a cold-drip process that preserved the flavor of the beans while producing a less acidic final drink. The caffeinated refresher (now also available in nitro form) became PJ’s signature menu item, offered alongside the expected espresso drinks, frozen and blended treats, and organic teas.

Although the brand is ubiquitous in Louisiana, it currently only operates three Texas franchises, all in the Houston area. Those shops have been so successful that the company is now pushing for rapid expansion — 180 locations — within the next 10 years.

In addition to the San Antonio outposts, PJ’s is opening 60 new locations in Houston, 25 in Austin, and 55 in Dallas-Fort Worth. The openings are still in the initial stages, so no information is yet available about potential locations and exact opening dates.

To put the speed of the Alamo City growth in perspective, Starbucks lists 50 locations in the city, including mini outposts in Target stores and the airport. Major competitor Dunkin’ only has eight locations in San Antonio and its own expansion plans, announced May 8, only includes six new stores. It’s clear that PJ’s intends to dominate the market.

“As we sought further expansion, Texas became an obvious choice as an area with similar values and upbeat vibe," said the brand’s chief development officer David Mesa via release. "We look forward to rapidly expanding and consistently adding to the PJ's coffee family in our neighboring state because you know what they say — everything's bigger and better in Texas."