Business Spotlight on Keeping Up with Them Joneses

Posted on May 8, 2024

IMAGE: James III, Jaliea, and James IV Jones standing in front of food truckKeeping Up with Them Joneses Soul Food and Desserts food truck is a family-owned business in Killeen. Jaliea and James III cook and manage the business, and their son, James IV, helps with decorating desserts and food preparation. He also handles advertising and marketing on social media and customer service.

Located in The Village Square near their church on E. Stan Schleuter Loop, the family started out catering at their church for gatherings or bazaars. When looking for funding to start their food truck, James III met with Jason Ehler, Business Advisor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Ehler often speaks at financial literacy events hosted by Texell Credit Union and recommended the credit union as a starting point. Since James was already a Texell member, he said it was a perfect choice.

“It just seemed like it fit, and it was another way that God was opening doors for us,” said Jaliea. “In all of this, He’s the foundation. We pray every morning to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually.” Their motto is “Taste and See” from Psalm 34:8, and they offer tasting samples of their side dishes. It doesn’t take much to convert customers to believers that their food is good.

“We let them sample everything,” Jaliea said. “One customer said she didn’t like beans, but when she tried them, she said, ‘Oh, these are marvelous.’ You’re opening their eyes to something that they were against.” James III talked about the emotional connection and nostalgia their customers feel when tasting their food. One repeat customer cried when he ate the potato salad because it reminded him of his mom.

Another customer couldn’t believe he could have chicken and dressing with gravy, navy beans, and black-eyed peas. After tasting their food for the first time, this customer exclaimed, “You mean I can eat like this, and it’s not even Thanksgiving!” James III said that customer was also the first to fill up his “Keeper Card.”

“We had to give him a T-shirt,” James III said. After purchasing 10 meals, repeat customers, who James IV named “Keepers,” can bring in their card to get one meal free.

“The amount of work it takes to build this with my parents is way more of an opportunity than anything else. As far as the future is concerned, I can benefit from this regardless of whatever is next.” - James IV

Each “Keeper” has a favorite dish, from pork chops to chicken wings, collard greens to candied yams, peach cobbler to banana cake. For the Saturday special, the Joneses offer ribs with potato salad and the choice of two sides.

“Most of my recipes stem from things I learned when I was in the kitchen with my grandmother,” Jaliea said. Her grandmother had a stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side, but she didn’t let it slow her down. To chop vegetables, she added nails through the bottom of her cutting boards to hold the vegetables in place so she could chop them with one hand.

Before opening the food truck, Jaliea worked at Killeen ISD and won the chili cook-off three years in a row, along with Star Suite tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys. After two consecutive wins, the district changed the cook-off to a blind taste test, and again, her chili won.

Jaliea’s cooking is popular not just with her former coworkers and church members, but with friends as well. James IV remembers bringing his homemade lunches to school and having friends ask where his food came from.

“One of my friends in middle school would always ask me about the 7-UP cake my mom made me, and now she makes one every year for my friend’s birthday,” said James IV, who sees the opportunity to work with his family as a blessing. “The amount of work it takes to build this with my parents is way more of an opportunity than anything else. As far as the future is concerned, I can benefit from this regardless of whatever is next.” Jaliea is also thankful for her son’s help to draw customers with his outgoing personality.

GIF: Keeping Up With Them Joneses Soul Food & Desserts food truck and family

“It’s exciting for me to be doing something I love with people that I love,” said Jaliea. “It’s amazing because my son draws customers young and old with social media, and my husband is an amazing businessman and has become quite the cook as well. We’ve developed a system where we work as a unit. If one of us seems to get backed up on something, the others fall in immediately to pick up the slack. It’s like a well-oiled machine.”

Keeping Up with Them Joneses Soul Food and Desserts food truck is in The Village Square at 2904 E. Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen. Their hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For questions or to place an order, call 254.702.3570, or follow them on Facebook.

If you have dreams of starting your own business or need help expanding your current one, Texell’s Commercial loan experts are ready to help. Visit, call 254.774.5161, or email to get started today.

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