TEXAS BBQ MEETS KOREAN SPICES: Try walking into this Temple barbecue joint without smiling - we dare you

Posted at 4:06 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 11:08:00-04

Kim Dunn has owned Pit Stop Bar-B-Q in Temple for 8 years now.

"My daily routine, cook brisket, cook chicken, cook ribs, make jambalaya, make Korean food, that's the daily routine," Kim Dunn said. "It keeps you on your toes. You can't slack off If you slack off you will be behind."

Dunn says she averages 50 to 60 customers a day.

"I can't make all of my customers happy, but I am going to try every day," Dunn said. 

Dunn said she loves her customers and is glad she gets to serve the ones she does every day.

"That's my favorite part of it to feel like I accomplished something for the day when you treat a customer right, you feed them, they are happy. that makes me automatically happy so that's my daily happiness," Dunn said.

Dunn grew up in Korea and move to the United States when she married into the U.S. Air Force in 1975. While working for the Air Force, she was given the option to go to Fort Hood.

"I said well, I never been to Fort Hood before so I said okay, I guess we will go to Fort Hood," she said. 

Fort Hood was the unexpected place where Dunn's barbecue dream began. While working on the base at Fort Hood, her boss gave her the opportunity to start serving barbecue to soldiers. She was sent to Culvers BBQ in Dallas to learn her craft and brought back her new skills to Fort Hood. 

Her first restaurant was in Fort Hood, and her barbecue career flourished from there. 

"BBQ, everybody does it differently, everybody has a little tweak to it. Everybody has different taste buds to it, there is different types of wood so it's hard to know who will do it right and who is not going to do it right, but so far my way of doing it is working," Dunn said. 

Her way of doing barbecue is not only working - its excelling. Her little shop got the attention of Texas Monthly, as well as many people driving through Temple.

As for the locals, some make stops at Pit Stop Bar-B-Q multiple times a week.

"I just walked in and I was like give me something, and she said okay I'll hook you up. Well, you'll never leave here not satisfied with this food, it's pretty good,' one fan of the barbecue said. 

And while traditional Texas BBQ is her specialty, Dunn has not forgotten where she came from. She serves Korean food right alongside slabs of her brisket. 

"That way people don't have to go to have BBQ in one restaurant, and then they have to have Asian food in an Asian restaurant - especially with an Asian woman doing this anyway, right?"

Dunn serves Teriyaki rice and chicken, bulgogi and much more - but her Korean dishes are not consistent on the menu. She always cooks whatever she is feeling for the day.

"For the couple items I make, I make it just like we do in Korea. that's important to me, it's where I grew up," Dunn said.

And the Central Texans she serves seem to appreciate her bringing a slice of home down South.

"I guess here, we don't really have such natural Korean food like we don't have it from somebody that cooked it their whole life and cooked it homemade so it's cool to have somebody that can do it and make it how it should be done," a customer said.

If you want to know her recipe, she doesn't have one. Dunn said she does all the work by herself because she knows she is the only one she can trust to get everything just right. 

"I don't measure here. I just dump this and dump that and cook. I don't have a rule here. That's what the nice part is when you are doing your own food," Dunn said.

And while she doesn't measure her spices, she does measure her attitude. Dunn said she always serves one full cup of smiles to everyone who walks in the door.

"I convince myself that way, why do you want to be miserable? Happy is good, I always say that. The reason is that somebody else may not be feeling good and may not be happy, but my face maybe brightens it up and will make them happy too," Dunn said.

While Dunn said the secret to life is a smile, the secret to her food is a different story.

"Secret, I think my secret is the way I like to eat, that's my secret. Somebody else may not like it with my taste, but maybe somebody else will. that's the secret... no shortcuts," Dunn said.

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