When Bud and Karen Royer decided to open a cafe in the tiny town of Round Top, Texas, in 1987, they were so broke they had to borrow gas money just to make the move from Houston. But over the next few decades, they persisted, creating an institution from scratch in a town of fewer than a hundred people. And since taking over operations of Royers Round Top Cafe in 2016, their son, JB, along with his wife, Jamie, have both continued that tradition and elevated it, achieving national recognition and, this month, a namesake cookbook, Cooking with JB & Jamie.
For JB and Jamie, the connections forged in their ten-table cafe in this little outpost between Houston and Austin matter just as much as the dishes they create and serve. “It’s about feeding the soul as much as the stomach,” JB says. And for the couple, the best ingredient seems to be each other, as their individual talents tend to bolster the other’s. “I’m pretty much the ideas person and she runs with it,” JB says. “He’s the dreamer and I’m the maker,” Jamie adds.
Many of their most in-demand menu items were born of necessity, as the two would look around the kitchen at Royers, survey what they had left over, and imagine something entirely new. Those experimentations included desserts, and led to the now-iconic Junkberry pie, which emerged when the Royers had a surplus of fruit, and this beloved Texas Trash Pie. “We just threw everything in a pot; pretzels, graham crackers, chocolate chips, caramel, coconut,” JB says. “And then you add butter and condensed milk, and it’s just heaven.” He also likes to toss in some white chocolate for a slightly different spin. After all, in their new cookbook, the couple encourages readers to play around and have fun in the kitchen, too. “We always tell people to tweak things,” JB says. “Do whatever you like. Experiment. Have fun. It’s your kitchen. Make it your own.”