HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Hancock County released its list for 2019 Businesses of the Year, naming five businesses as standouts in the region.
Among the winner is PJ’s Coffee and Creole Creamery. The stores are nestled near the heart of Old Town Bay St. Louis, known well for its small town charm.
“It’s just a nice quaint little town and you just walk around, eat the food. It’s always good," said visitor Robert Fletcher.
People say things have changed for the better since late 2018 when Creole Creamery and PJ’s Coffee became the new shops on the block.
“More traffic. A lot of people like coming here because PJ’s is here. I mean there’s Starbucks in Gulfport and people know of PJ’s in Bay St. Louis," said Shawn Necase, who goes to PJ’s coffee every day.
While many were at first concerned about how design elements like PJ’s drive-thru would match the Old Town feel, regulars say it has made the stopping by the coffee shop more convenient.
“I’ll stop before I go to work in the morning and come strictly to Bay St. Louis to be able to come and get coffee," Necase stated.
It doesn’t hurt that PJ’s and Creole Creamery sit side-by-side, giving customers a variety of treats to choose from.
“It’s nice to have the ice cream to go with the coffee as well and they have amazing flavors here," one man said. ”It balances it out that way, that way it’s not too cold, not too hot."
“It has mixes of flavors together that I wouldn’t normally see in an ice cream shop and I’m not disappointed," said Rick Thurnheer, visiting from Canada.
People say they look forward to seeing more businesses like these in Old Town, as long as they maintain The Bay’s small town feel.
“There’s young kids over there now that just love the scenery of just being able to talk to somebody know their name. So bringing small business like that would really help Bay St Louis develop more," said Necase.
Three other businesses were highlighted on the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Businesses of the Year list, including Pearl River Community College Hancock Center, Tiki Delivery, and The Broke Spoke.
Tiki Delivery is a grass roots company that started in Diamondhead and is now known throughout the Coast as it continues to grow and compete with the national chains. Anthony Depreo, CEO of Tiki Delivery, is actively involved in Hancock County and the Diamondhead community. He volunteers time and money to make the community a better place to live, work, play and worship. Tiki Delivery’s goal is to keep local dollars in Hancock County.
Since 2005, the Pearl River Community College Hancock Center has been providing students with an opportunity to receive a quality education by preparing them to complete a degree or certificate program for a successful career. The Hancock Center also provides workforce training programs required by local businesses, industries, educational and public service agencies. This year, the Hancock Center will break ground on the Hancock Aviation Aerospace Workforce near Stennis International Airport to meet industry demands while increasing workforce development in Hancock County.
After three decades in business, patrons can still find Stevie and Mabel Haas behind the Broke Spoke bar on weeknights, serving up ice cold beverages and cooking pizza in the back. The 60-year-old building became a national landmark in 1997 when the Kiln’s own legendary quarterback Brett Favre led the Packers to Super Bowl XXXI. The local establishment drew hundreds of Wisconsin fans to watch the New England Patriots’ defeat. Stevie and Mabel have put their whole lives into their small town business and it has paid dividends to the Kiln community’s economy as well as for countless charities and community causes.
“Small businesses are the very backbone of our economy,” said Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber. “Everyone nominated from small businesses to our outstanding citizens are a product of entrepreneurship and a drive to improve the quality of life in Hancock County. It is our privilege as the county’s largest business organization to recognize these businesses and individuals as symbol of our gratitude for their investment in and service to our communities throughout Hancock County.”
Businesses of the Year and the Top 10 Outstanding Citizens will be recognized at the Annual Salute to Business & Industry Awards Gala, with one Outstanding Citizen being announced as Citizen of the Year.
The Hancock Chamber Industrial Award of Excellence and Community Partner of the Year will also be announced at the Gala.
The Annual Salute to Business & Industry Awards Gala will be held Aug. 8 at Hollywood Casino in Bay St. Louis. For more details, CLICK HERE.