Bridgette Williams, owner of Demhaj Poetry Lounge, once described herself as just a “little country gal.” After growing up in High Point and graduating from High Point Central High School, she didn’t know where life would take her. And while she started out in criminal justice, her quick smile, easy laughter, and kind voice made those around her doubt that she was pursuing the right path. Her father was one of those people.
“He used to say I was too nice,” Bridgette laughs, “and I’d free all the bad people.”
But what she learned was that her demeanor and passions were suited to caring for people, which led her to open her own home healthcare agency 16 years ago, Faithful Nurses Healthcare. She started her agency in her Charlotte, NC, but she and her son, Jahmed, traveled back to her hometown of High Point often to visit family and friends.
But inside of Bridgette’s passion for caring for others, she had another desire: to open a coffee shop. The idea had been in Bridgette’s mind for a while, and while her business kept her busy, as her son began pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship from Georgia State University, she wondered if maybe it was time to venture into another business opportunity with her son by her side (his name being the namesake of Demhaj Poetry Lounge – “Jahmed” spelled backwards). But this time, she was going to return to her roots.
“I wondered where the coffee shop could go,” Bridgette recalls, “and High Point was in my heart because I wanted to give back to the community that I grew up in.”
After finding their space at 805 N. Main Street, Bridgette and Jahmed thought through what kind of coffee shop they wanted to operate. Because they very quickly realized they wanted it to be more than a place just to grab a cup of coffee to go; they wanted it to be a place where connections were built.
“We want to have a place for people to have self-expression, diversity, and inclusion,” Jahmed says. That’s where the “poetry lounge” part of Demhaj Poetry Lounge comes in. Bridgette herself shyly admits to being a poet and having used the creative practice to process her own thoughts and emotions over the years.
“When I've performed poetry in the past and had people listen to me, it helped mentally and emotionally to know people wanted to hear,” she explains. “A lot of times, people just need someone to hear them, to listen to them. Having this space where we are diverse and where we accept everyone, let’s people come in and express themselves.”
So while anyone can visit Demhaj Poetry Lounge during the daytime hours to pick up a delicious coffee, evening events at Demhaj are reserved for everything from poetry nights to karaoke, to open mic nights – all with the goal of letting people build community through shared self-expression.
“We want to be an outlet,” explains Jahmed. While he is only a junior in college, he has already seen his major put into real-time practice through partnering with his mom at Demhaj.
“I’ve learned that business is 90% connection and 10% business,” Jahmed says with a smile. He says that connecting with the customer is one of his top priorities, wanting to guarantee the experience they have and the relationship they build encourages their return visits to Demhaj. Jahmed, along with their business partner, John Finley, lead the way in experimenting and perfecting new lattes – pulling unusual flavors like lavender, rose, butter pecan, even cotton candy.
Having grown up in Charlotte, but visiting High Point as a child, Jahmed foresees planting roots in High Point – which he hopes will become the next epicenter of the state.
And just like his mom, Jahmed has a passion for caring for those in his community. In fact, the Williams shared passion for High Point has already manifested in their desire to produce cross-business collaborations to give back to High Point-based non-profits.
For example, Demhaj Poetry Lounge partnered with Bridgette’s sister’s business, Sonjay's Catering & Event Planning, to distribute plates of food to members of the High Point community experiencing who are homelessness. After watching her own brother experience homelessness, Bridgette saw first-hand how important partnerships are in a community to make sure all citizens are well cared for.
Demhaj has also provided school supplies and hopes in the future to be even more involved with supporting students, education, and support for those experiencing homelessness.
“You have to give back,” Bridgette says matter-of-factly. To the Williamses, businesses and giving back go hand-in-hand. “Non-profits do so much for our community and they need that funding. They need that backing of businesses."
“Non-profit is the ministry side of our business,” Jahmed says, to put it another way. And the Williamses are confident about their choices, not just to bring lattes and poetry to High Point, but to bring care and connection too.
"You have to give back. Non-profits do so much for our community and they need that funding. They need that backing of businesses."
Bridgette Williams, Owner of Demhaj Poetry Lounge
“When I see other people smiling and happy, that's what brings me joy,” Bridgette says. “I could have opened the coffee shop in Charlotte; I could have done it anywhere else, but I wanted to take our skills, qualities, finances, and put it back into High Point."
And just like High Point has always felt like home to the Williamses, they want Demhaj Poetry Lounge to bring that same feeling to their customers.
“We want it to feel like one word: home,” Jahmed says. “It’s more than a coffee cup. It’s a conversation.”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team