Legacy & Leadership: Lee’s Coffee and Tea

Photo by Jeff Baldocks Creative Visions

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Laurel, then you have surely been through the doors at Lee’s Coffee and Tea. It’s our very own Cheers, where everyone knows your name…or at least they will before long!  It’s the perfect place for a quiet cup of coffee,  lunch with a friend, or an afternoon pick-me-up.  When you walk in and hear the familiar jazz music playing along with chatter as friends catch up over coffee or colleagues work out their latest business plan, you can’t help but feel a sense of home.

What is Lee’s Coffee and Tea?

A place for people who are looking for a casual gathering of family, friends, or business associates with fresh delicious food, coffee and tea.

How did Lee’s begin?

Lee L. Barnett,Aunt Lee, was born here and she has always had a special affinity for bringing life back to downtown. For many years she always wanted a tea shop and would drive down the streets and look at the old buildings and think of the possibilities.

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How did Lee’s come to be in Sears and why?

She purchased the old Sears building in November of 2006. With the help of her family, Clark Construction, and the talents of Mrs. Diane Owens the building was restored. The building not only houses Lee’s Coffee and Tea, but business offices, conference rooms and five beautiful apartments in the four story building. One of the things that Aunt Lee was careful to restore to its original state was the staircase made with southern yellow pine which represents this area.

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How do you think Lee’s will be different five years from now?

Aunt Lee lives day by day and would hope that five years from now, Lee’s will still be known for its high quality food and service.


Who do you think needs to hear your story?

Young people with all of their energy. Aunt Lee would like to see more young people invest in downtown.

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What is your best advice for those looking to participate in the growth, revitalization and restoration of Downtown Laurel?

Have faith. It is a tremendous undertaking to start and open your own business. It takes a lot of energy to open and keep it running smoothly.
There will be hard days but keep your faith. In the end it is worth it to see how much the good people of Laurel and Jones County as well as guests out of the county, state, and country enjoy your services.

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Why should people want to be a part of Downtown?

Downtown is a great place for anyone wanting to open their own business. With other businesses, cafes, and restaurants, a synergy is created and it’s all a very good environment.


Thank you, Aunt Lee, for sharing your story with us and for following your dream of creating a coffee and tea shop in Laurel. Lee’s is very much a cornerstone for our downtown and one that we hope continues to thrive for years to come!


Written by Keri Rowell

Keri is a member of the Laurel Main Street Board of Directors and the Promotions Committee Chair. She has been involved with Laurel Main Street since high school, and owns a small business in Downtown Laurel.