Cookin' up comfort
Smoked chicken, ribs, meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese are among the Southern delights at PJ's in Downtown Temple
Paula Jackson adds a little sugar to a pan of cut sweet potatoes this week at PJ’s Tabletop Southern Cuisine in Downtown Temple. David Stone photo
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Paula Jackson just might be the queen of comfort foods.
Smoked ribs, pork chops, meatloaf and chicken wings are all on the menu at PJ’s Tabletop Southern Cuisine, 10 W Ave. B in Downtown Temple. So are greens and cabbage, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and — perhaps the greatest comfort food ever — macaroni and cheese.
“We also have dessert,” Paula said while cutting up sweet potatoes for candied yams. “We have banana pudding, pound cake and sweet potato pie.”
“I grew up with this kind of food on both sides of my family,” she said earlier this week. “Both of my grandmothers were awesome cooks. My grandfather was Tommy Parker Sr., the first black butcher in Bell County. They knew their way around the kitchen.”
Paula’s grandmothers had long careers cooking in school cafeterias, and she has several relatives in the baking and cooking businesses.
“I had been general manager of Dollar General and a CEFCO store for several years, and I decided I wanted to open my own business. I looked around, and Temple didn’t have a soul food restaurant.”
“I started by selling plates out of my home — I was still working at the time,” she said. “I went to church one Sunday and the pastor came up to me. He said he had a vision of me cooking in a building. So, I started looking around and found this spot on Craigslist.”
A visit or two later, and Paula inked a deal with her landowner.
PJ’s most popular items are smoked chicken, pork chops, greens and cabbage — “No one puts them together” — and candied yams.
“The cabbage and greens are so popular we have them every day. The meatloaf is very popular as well.”
In addition to cooking up popular comfort foods, Paula bottles and sells her own line of sweet and unsweet teas named after her granddaughter, Kambri.
“We call her Suga, so that’s what I named the tea.”
Paula has collaborated with Spice Emporium in Temple to create a line of seasons and spices, including popular French fry and pork chop seasonings.
“I’m trying to get the seasonings into the local H-E-B stores,” she said.
Although running a restaurant can be both time consuming and exhausting, Paula has enough energy to launch a new business.
“I’m opening a women’s apparel store in Temple Mall,” she said. “It’s called PJs Classy Sassy Boutique. I’ve been doing live shows on Facebook and I have a Shopify store. I have a nice following, and this seemed like a logical next step.”
Ruckers take part in a Santa Fe Plaza ceremony prior to the Veterans Day weekend march. Saturday’s march begins at 9 a.m. Jason Deckman photo
Rucks on Main helps stock food pantries
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple
Saturday’s grueling 6.2-mile march through some Temple’s historic neighborhoods will pay tribute to America’s veterans and stock local food bank shelves.
Rucks on Main — held on Memorial Day and Veterans Day weekends — has raised more than six tons of food for Temple’s hungry and has raised awareness about struggles often faced by veterans.
“We’re hoping to have more than 200 marchers this time,” said Jason Deckman, a veteran and one of the event organizers. “It seems to grow with every march. Our first ruck was Veterans Day 2020 and we had about 70 participants. This past Veterans Day we had 160.”
Marchers will don backpacks — they’re known as rucks in the military — filled with up to 40 pounds of canned goods and non-perishable food items. They also clip a laminated photo to their ruck of a veteran who has touched their lives.
Following a brief program and a color-guard ceremony at Santa Fe Plaza, the march will begin at 9 a.m. From the plaza, ruckers will head to Main Street, turn left, and head north through the Jackson Park area. The route crosses 3rd Street on Nugent, meanders through the Historic District, then back toward Downtown.
The Adam Berry Band will open Hot Sounds of Summer at 7:30 p.m. June 3 at Miller Park. Courtesy photo
Hot Summer Sounds opens June 3
Our Town Temple
Summer is coming and so is the Hot Summer Sounds concert series.
This year’s series will feature a mix of metal, country, Tejano and Zydeco bands at selected parks across Temple.
Get you lawnchairs, picnic basket and coolers in summer shape — the fun starts June 3 at Miller Park. Food vendors will be at each event.
So here’s that lineup!
Miller Park 1919 N 1st St, Temple, TX
June 3 - Adam Berry Band
June 10 - Deja Vibes
West Temple Park 8420 W Adams Ave, Temple, TX
June 17 - Tex Mex Cowboy
June 24 - Jean Pierre & The Zydeco Angels
Lions Park (Sam Farrow) Amphitheater Lions Park Dr, Temple, TX
July 8 - Brazos Brothers
July 15 - The Selfless Lovers
Santa Fe Plaza 301 W Ave A, Temple, TX
July 22 - Hair Metal Giants
July 29 - American Merit Band
Friday’s best bets
Wade Ralston live at Fire Base Brewing. 6:30 p.m.
‘ELVIS’ in Temple! Kraig Parker, aka The King, returns to the Cultural Activities Center at 7:30 p.m.
Karaoke night at Corky’s. Songs start at 8 pm.
Ghost Hunting Class at Wilson Recreation Center. Do you have an interest in the paranormal? Ever wonder what it's like to be a real ghost hunter? Try our Paranormal Studies class with paranormal investigator JohnJohn from Dark Explorers paranormal and learn all there is about becoming a paranormal investigator. Join us for this introductory class. 5:30 p.m. to. 7 p.m. $35 per person.
Saturday’s best bets
Small Business Boothcamp at MES Fitt, 404 Cottingham in Temple. Local small businesses, come vendor with us and help the people know who you are and what you do. 9 a.m. Open to the public.
Comedy Showcase at Corky’s. Doors open at 7, show at 8.
Rucks on Main Memorial Day Weekend March. 9 a.m. Rucks On Main is a non-profit organization that hosts a military-themed ruck march in honor of Veterans, First Responders, and The Fallen twice a year at the Santa Fe Plaza in downtown Temple. This event is open to everyone. Online registration will be $40, and will increase to $60 30-days prior to the event. You can register as an individual, social team, or squad! Everyone will carry up to 40 lbs of non-perishable food items during the ruck march. Squads will compete for most weight carried in their ruck. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place medals will be awarded to each squad after the ruck march. Everyone who participates in the Ruck March will enjoy free food, an adult beverage, camaraderie, and music after the Ruck March. Ruck day registration starts at 7:30 a.m.
Name That Tune Bingo: Classic Rock Edition at Fire Base Brewing. $2 per card. 7:30 p.m.
Sunday’s best bets
Baby Goats and Wine! Join us for Goat Yoga at 11 am and/or Goat Cuddles at 1 pm. Either option you get to hang out with baby goats from Goat Shenanigans and enjoy some delicious wine from 3 Texans Winery and Vineyard. Get your tickets now! https://www.goatshenanigans.com/event-tickets
Leather & Lacey Downtown Drag at Corky’s. Doors open at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 for General Admission and $25 for VIP. Upstairs standing room tickets are $10. Host Lacey brings Natalie Cutrone McCall, Anyzha D. St. James & Devonna KaDavan St. James to help celebrate her birthday. Note: VIP ticketholders get special UP CLOSE reserved seating to participate in a game with the queens at the end of the show AND get an exclusive meet and greet at 7:30 before the show.
Central Texas Film Society Monthly Movie & Discussion presents Wages of Fear at CAC. 2 p.m. “In a decrepit South American village, four men are hired to transport an urgent nitroglycerine shipment without the equipment that would make it safe.”
To include your events in What’s Happening, email information to OurTownTemple@gmail.com. Photos are welcome to for use in the publication as space permits!