The mercury rises into triple digits at 3 p.m. in Killeen’s 440 Plaza.
A small window-unit air conditioner stuck in a food trailer called Barbara’s Schnitzel Shack buzzes behind the sounds of rich conversations in German.
Barbara Brown, the owner of the food trailer, sits in the shady patio furniture to talk with her customers over a cup of coffee which, she said, keeps her from sweating too much.
“The heat gets pretty crazy sometimes,” Brown said, sipping a hot cup of coffee. “You do what you have to do.”
She said drinking hot coffee makes it easier to regulate her body temperature.
An occasional breeze helps, she said.
Brown moved to Killeen from Germany with her Army husband.
She worked several low-paying jobs — as a bartender and a dental assistant — before saving enough to follow her passion: cooking authentic German schnitzel.
“I just got tired of living paycheck to paycheck,” Brown said.
Her business, open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is so busy, Brown barely has enough time to smoke a cigarette before she has to jump back in the kitchen to prepare another meal.
She said she has not taken a loss one week since she opened seven weeks ago.
What is most remarkable about Brown’s eatery is how she is able to bring such a purely German clientele, just across the street from Killeen’s largest Korean grocery store.
For the hour that I visited her, nearly all the customers who visited ordered their food in German.
Monika McCloud, who moved to the U.S. to follow her Army husband, said it has been a long time since she found a restaurant that serves German food.
She also drank hot coffee while her order was prepared.
“We had a couple of places but it’s not the right kind of food,” she said. “If you are German, you are supposed to know how to cook the food.”
Brown said speaking German, and more importantly being German, is a huge advantage in selling German food.
“Most of my customers are German,” Brown said. “Why would an American sell German food? It doesn’t make sense.”