The five-year anniversary event was a four-day tribute to its customers who have come out and supported CJ’s over the years. The Roger Humphries Band, there every Thursday night, kicked off the celebration. Hubbs Groove, a band from Cleveland, also joined in the celebration. DJ Nick Nice was there on Friday.
|SHOWING THEIR SUPPORT—Musicians throughout the city led by bassist Dwayne Dolphin joined forces to show their support for CJ’s in a musical tribute.
CJ’s rotates deejays on Fridays, but Nice is a crowd favorite. The finale was a night of musicians who played at CJ’s over the past five years. They came out to celebrate with the owners and played to the crowd on Sunday night.
Caren and Don Miller have been working for other companies in the past years but felt the need to fill a void that was missing in western Pennsylvania. Caren was in banking for 19 years and continued to manage her father’s establishment called Art’s, located across the street from CJ’s. Don worked for Alcoa as a business analyst for 17 years and prior to that worked at Westinghouse as a business analyst.
“We saw the need for a place where people could be comfortable and have live music. We also wanted it to be affordable. We are comfortable with the lineup that we have. Over the years we have made changes and adapted to certain things. Initially, we had six days a week of jazz. We then added karaoke which took off. I think that we have stayed open this long because of our location, dress code, and having Art’s across the street doesn’t hurt,” said Don.
CJ’s offers a good food, safety and no cover charge.
|PROUD OWNERS —Caren and Don Miller.
“We looked at the market and people in western Pennsylvania are not used to paying a cover charge. In New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta you can easily pay a $10 cover charge. In Pennsylvania it is a different kind of vibe. We would rather have no cover and have people spend money on food and drinks. A lot of people still don’t know that we are here in the Strip District. For those people we want them to come out and give CJ’s a try. When people come here for the first time they are pleasantly surprised at the atmosphere we provide,” Caren said, adding, “I know that we are blessed to have made it five years because statistically restaurants and clubs do not survive this long.”
“We want to thank the musicians for celebrating with us because we have so much talent here in Pittsburgh. We are happy to be here for five years, but it has not been easy. Without the support of our regular customers and new customers, we would not be here. We thank God that he has blessed us. A couple of years ago we were thinking about closing our doors but the community has rallied around us and that is why we are still here. This has been a lifestyle change for both of us. This is not a regular nine to five job. It’s a struggle and it continues to be a struggle. We thank the managers, staff, bartenders and waitresses for doing an outstanding job. We could not this without them.” said Don.
“I like the atmosphere and the fact that it is Black-owned. It’s for the more mature crowd and there no riffraff. Come down to CJ’s and enjoy the atmosphere and let’s fellowship together,” said Chavon, a waitress.
“You can get great music and food and the people are great. I don’t know any where that you can go for free and get all of this. I’ve gone to other cities and you have to pay to see all of this that happens at CJ’s,” said Pete, a customer.
CJ’s is looking forward to another five years and they feel fortunate to have the support that they receive from the community, allowing them to reach their first five years.
“We are more than just a Friday night restaurant and bar. We have a great line up of jazz musicians that are second to none and much more,” said Caren.
(You can contact CJ’s in the Strip District by visiting www.cjsinthestrip.com or call 412-642-2377.)
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