PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A single mom's single coffee shop has created a special community gathering space in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.
It got the attention of the Philadelphia 76ers and Lizette Apy's Thunder Mug Cafe is this year's winner of the team's "Buy Black" program.
Apy hopes her dream and her space both serve as an "illuminant of hope for existing and future black entrepreneurs."
She opened the coffee shop to create community and her customers are more like family.
"She is someone who wanted the village," says customer Anna Rogalla, who lives in East Falls. "And that's what we feel like here."
Apy was a single mom in Chicago and followed her daughter to Philadelphia.
"I thought, you know, this is the perfect time to change my stars, do something different," Apy explains.
Apy put herself through college working in diners and cafes.
"People would walk in and you would know their names, and they know you," Apy says. "It was just so nice, and I just always kept that with me."
Thunder Mug Cafe opened just before the pandemic shutdowns, but her East Falls village stayed with her, picking up favorites like the mochas and lattes and her famous beignets.
"I have probably eaten 150 of these since they opened," Rogalla laughs.
There are croissants and homemade hand pies, like the chicken curry.
"Every night when I close the door, I always think, 'I love this place,'" Apy said. "I love it."
As this year's winner of the 76ers "Buy Black" program, Apy is really feeling her stars align.
"I have access to their entire marketing team," she said. "It's a solid partnership. It's huge and I get to go to some games too."