Posted on August 22, 2012
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on August 23, 2012.
By: Allison Gatlin – El Dorado News-Times
Nearly two years after his purchase of downtown El Dorado?s historic Armstrong Building, Virginia-based real estate developer Pete Dunn announced the rapidly-approaching opening of PJ?s Coffee in September via an emailed release.
The national chain has New Orleans roots and fit in best with the South Arkansas feel, Dunn wrote in a separate email.
"We looked at several others including Seattle?s Best and Dunn Brothers, but felt a better connection with PJ?s with their family ownership and the New Orleans base which identifies better with South Arkansas,? he said.
With a target grand opening already set for 9 a.m. on Sept. 14 at the Main and Washington streets location, Dunn said the renovation project has been an ongoing process.
"The space will be completely renovated to provide an environment that will be comfortable, bright and encourage having a drink and spending some time catching up with friends or just people-watching,? according to the release.
Also according to the release, the store will feature a wine bar using machines produced by Napa Technology and will include eight different bottles and wines created by the Murphy family?s Presqu?ile winery.
In addition, PJ?s evening hours, which stretch until 9 p.m., will encourage Abita Brewing Co. fans to turn out for the Louisiana-specific brew.
Dunn wrote that his goal is to encourage further foot traffic in downtown El Dorado at the end of the work day.
"The wine bar concept is not typical for their stores, but we wanted to include a concept that would expand the sales into the afternoon and evening hours so we wouldn?t be so dependent on the morning coffee business,? he said. "This will also enable us to stay open later with our initial closing time planned for 9 p.m. so we can generate more downtown foot traffic that will hopefully generate more activity downtown in the evening hours.?
What is typical for PJ?s Coffee and will also be featured in the El Dorado store is a variety of hot, iced and frozen coffee beverages and a selection of freshly-baked breakfast and lunch items, according to the release. Of PJ?s 20 coffee choices, three will be brewed daily.
Prices will range between $2 and $5 depending on the drink size and type, Dunn noted.
PJ?s Coffee will employ 15 full- and part-time workers, he said.
Though Dunn is far from El Dorado, he is in no way an outsider to the area. Before his Oct. 1, 2010 purchase of the 1924 Armstrong Building, Dunn bought and overhauled the federal building on the outskirts of downtown El Dorado, according to News-Times archives.
However, the monetary investment isn?t what ties him to El Dorado, Dunn told the News-Times in 2010. Rather, it?s the familial tie to the city where his mother grew up and where he spent a good chunk of his childhood.
"I have family in El Dorado and I?ve visited El Dorado since I was a kid,? he said. "I?m not a permanent resident but I feel a connection from having visited there for the past 40 years.?
According to the release and his email, Dunn said he sees great potential in the town.
"The purchase of the El Dorado Federal Center and the Armstrong building(s) were great opportunities to take an asset that has tremendous potential but just needed some polishing and attention,? Dunn wrote.
He planned on Wednesday to remove the tarps covering the awnings featuring the PJ?s Coffee sign and place "coming soon? banners in the windows of the building today."