A.J.’s Fine Wine and Liquors owner Ajay Jambhekar stands with Hall of Fame Cricket Player Ajit Wadekar, Rekha Wadekar and Geeta Jambhekar at a recent special event at his community store.

A.J’s Fine Wines and Liquors, nestled into the corner of the Publix Plaza in the Shoppes at Lithia Plaza, wants to be the neighborhood liquor store. After a long career in telecommunications and accounting, owner Ajay Jambhekar opened his own business to utilize the skills he gained in business.

“A businessman earns respect with knowledge,” said Jambhekar, adding, “earning respect takes a lot longer than demanding it.” Jambhekar prides himself on his relationship with his customers and hopes that more residents will come into his store to see for themselves, the difference his neighborhood liquor store offers.

After opening in the plaza in 2003, the store recently underwent a full renovation and move to a larger space that gave it the opportunity to expand. In addition to full liquor and wines, it now offers a walk-in humidor and craft beer fridge, an outdoor events patio with seating for up to 25, a sit-down tasting bar and even more unique features that won’t be found in a typical liquor store.

Longtime happy customer, Tom Gill of Valrico said, “Ajay treats each product as something to be studied, so when you come in to ask what is appropriate for a given situation, he has the perfect item.” Gill added, “Ajay is a wonderful, caring individual and asset to our community.”

In addition to the unique features of the store, it also offers weekly complimentary tastings, where often a vendor or representative from a brand will be on hand to educate and answer questions. “I want to offer this service and the outdoor patio as a way for residents to network and meet others,” explained Jambhekar. Sign up to receive emails and special event alerts.

Recently, Ajay hosted a reception for Ajit Wadekar, a Hall of Fame international cricket player who has formed a foundation to help disabled cricket players. The invited guests agreed to donate $5,000 to the foundation. This is just one of many fundraising efforts hosted by A.J.’s, including several for the Patel Foundation for Global Understanding. The store has also been nominated and/or won business of the year recognition from multiple chambers.

A.J.’s is located at 3443 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. at the corner of Lithia-Pinecrest & Bloomingdale Rds. The store is open Mon.- Sat. from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The phone number is 654-6488.

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