Remember how exciting it was as a child to watch the slushy machines swirl as you begged your parents to buy you your favorite flavor? That’s exactly how it feels walking into Max Joe’s Daiquiri Lounge for the first time.
Guests are immediately greeted by a friendly smile behind the beautiful wooden bar. Customers often get the deer-in-the-headlight look as they stare at several shiny machines filled with bright, swirling colors as they are offered samples of the variety of daiquiri flavors available.
After ordering, one immediately notices the decor. Max Joe’s, located at 2013 S. Belt Highway Suite 100, has a very open feel with its comfortable seating and large windows. Small neon signs on walls of greenery make the place feel like a tiny vacation. The owners, mother/daughter duo LaQuella Wilkinson and Daresha Brown, definitely achieved their goal of providing a fun atmosphere.
“I have always believed that St. Joe needed more alternatives when it comes to a day/night out, date night, or girls’ night,” Wilkinson said. “Some people, like myself, prefer to have a drink with friends in a more relaxed atmosphere. You can find places similar to Max Joe’s in larger cities or touristy areas, so we thought why not here in St. Joe?”
Brown said Max Joe’s was born out of quarantine, and her mother was the brains behind the operation.
“Being in quarantine with nothing to do but work left a lot of time for reflection,” Brown said. “I thought heavily about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Entrepreneurship crossed my mind several times, so when my mom came to me with the idea I jumped on board. I still am in shock every day that we accomplished this. Being a mother/daughter duo is just a bonus.”
Wilkinson said she still is learning how to separate her business partner from her daughter. The last year has been all business, but she doesn’t want to lose that mother/daughter relationship.
“This is new for us, so just like everything else in life we need to figure out how to balance,” Wilkinson said. “Overall, I’m beyond thrilled to be able to share this experience with my oldest daughter, sharing the ups and downs of owning and operating our first business together.”
Both Brown and Wilkinson said they feel a sense of pride in being Black female business owners.
“There’s very few businesses ran by Black women in St. Joseph,” Brown said. “Hopefully we will be around for a long time to inspire a new generation of Black business owners.”
Wilkinson said owning a business as women, in general, is challenging as they have had interactions with vendors who were looking for “the man” in the room.
“Black women business owners are the minority here, and I’m glad to be included in that group,” Wilkinson said. “I hope that we are able to set a great example for aspiring women and other minority business owners in the community. I am proud to be a Black business owner, but even more proud that our business is a place for everyone. So far the feedback has been amazing.”
Max Joe’s was named in honor of the larger-than-life personality of Wilkinson’s father, Floyd Maxwell, “Max”, who was well known in the community. His legacy lives on as his daughter and granddaughter set out to inspire others and provide a place where everyone over 21 is welcome.
If you are looking for a good place to relax and unwind with a colorful drink in hand, grab some friends and see what this new business is all about.