**Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Written by Leslie Turk
Johnston Street Java aims to help its customers escape the daily stresses of life in an atmosphere that will remind them of a simpler Lafayette.
Perhaps better than any other family, the Judices know Lafayette. They've retained the Johnston Street property that's been in the family since 1947, and now four of Rosemary Judice Martin's children hope to share memories of old Lafayette over a cup of coffee. "We want to pay tribute to my grandfather, grandmother and also to Johnston Street," says Peter Martin, Rosemary's son who will manage the new coffee shop, Johnston Street Java. "We have pictures of Johnston Street from the '50s, when it was a two-line highway, and we're going to put those up."
One picture, adds Peter, shows his grandfather's old grocery store at the corner of Johnston and what is now Doucet Road. "Doucet Road is not even there yet. That's how old it is," he say. "Johnston is a two-lane highway, and there are no cars on the road."
Johnston Street Java is locating in the building that most recently housed Doiron vet clinic. "Before that it was fried chicken stand," Peter says. "I have a lot of stories about that building. Carlos Marcello, the head of the mafia in New Orleans in the '70s, wanted to lease that from my grandfather [Pierre Judice] to put a restaurant there, and he told him no.' I think he was afraid of him."
At 2,500 square feet, Johnston Street Java will be one of Lafayette's largest coffee shops, offering a full range of Community Coffee products, including mochas, lattes and ice coffees. It'll also serve old-fashioned milk shakes and desserts from "the best pastry shops in town," says Peter. It will have a drive-thru but will not serve alcohol. "I found out today we can't [serve alcohol]," Peter says. "You can't have everything."
Along with his sisters, Marie Darby and Jeanine Cheramie, and brother, Randall, Peter operates J&R Educational Supplies. The four siblings are partners in the new coffee shop venture, which they hope to open in October. J&R was started by his parents, Jean and Rosemary, who turned the business over to their children in 1990.
The Judice and Martin families own 19 acres of land at the site, from Johnston Street to Red Lerille's, and lease most of the property to businesses located there.
The two Martin family businesses, J&R and Johnston Street Java, are a stone's throw from each other. Among the driving factors in the decision to invest in the coffee shop are the high traffic count on Johnston and the adjacent movie theater.
"We want to take advantage of the theater and of Johnston Street," says Judice, noting that of the 18 theaters in nine states owned by Southern Theatres, Grand's parent group, Lafayette's Grand Theatre is No. 1. "It's been No. since day one. About 900,000 people visit the Grand every year. That's a lot of people," he says. "Johnston Street Java is determined to become a daily necessity for local coffee addicts. We want it to be a place to remember the past as you try to escape the daily stresses of life and just a comfortable place to meet your friends or to read a book."