By Max Diehl | Guest Contributor, Kaity Kempf | Broadcast Reporter
“Tempting Texas tummies with a taste of Jamaica” — a fun tagline, a clever use of alliteration, but more than anything, an indication of the values that really make Tru Jamaica special.
From the very beginning, it was just as much about the community as it was about the food. The beloved eatery quickly became an institution in Waco, serving some of the best Jamaican cuisine in central Texas. Last month, this temple of good eats fell victim to an electrical fire, the interior of the store being heavily damaged in a blaze.
But for owners Vivia Charles and Aniceto Charles Jr — mother and son duo — this was a case of ‘down, not out.’ Their mentality was always one of moving forward, finding a way out of the ashes.
“We had to just sit down and thank God that no one was hurt, and that the shell of the building was there,” Vivia Charles said. “And immediately, the community started reaching out to us. We were just so thankful- we couldn’t stay in that down place for very long.”
Vivia Charles, herself a force of positive energy, looked back to Aniceto Jr, seeming to contemplate the surrealness of the moment.
“And then we started planning.”
Aniceto Charles Jr. jumped in, offering an explanation of just how they had taken steps forward.
“I love to eat,” Aniceto Charles Jr. said. “I frequent DiCampli’s and have become good friends with the owner Massimo and he is always offering to help us with anything we need. And he’s the type to do it. He pulled us aside and offered us his food truck.”
Aniceto motioned around that very food truck, the new — and by all accounts temporary — home of Tru Jamaica.
“We didn’t even know if Baylor would let us on campus, especially in a way so ingrained in the common day… but they told us to stay as long as we want,” Aniceto Charles Jr. said.
It seems their impact has only grown since being on campus, with many students forming a relationship with the Charles’ and having easy access to the food they love.
“Their environment is so cool. The food is exquisite, but more than that, they’re just great people,” Beaverton, Ore. senior Garrett Taylor said.
The Charles’ seem to have a finger on the pulse of the community and a genuine passion for their neighbors. Their focus is less on their own rebuild and more on the recent flooding of Clay Pot and the Heritage Homestead Cafe fire. The Charles’ said they are looking to set up a combined fundraiser and to have a marathon cooking event to bring the community together — an event Aniceto Charles Jr. coined a “Foodathon.”
For these Wacoans, the statement of ‘down but not out’ doesn’t seem to do it justice, as just about nothing could keep the Charles’ down.
“What we’ve gone through, and for those who have come alongside us, I hope that encourages others in the community to seek help when they need it,” said Vivia Charles.
People can support this Waco institution by dining at their food truck on Baylor’s campus and donating to the GoFundMe.