The goal of any true business is to make money, but one Texas restaurant owner closes her doors to paying customers once a week to feed those in need.
For Paulette Johnson, who runs Trucker’s Café in South Dallas, cooking is her passion — and so is the Monday lunch crowd, who turn up to the restaurant for a free hot meal, toiletries and clothing, WFAA-TV reported.
Doors open at noon, and each patron is greeted with a smile and given a number and a seat when they walk in. Then, when their number is called, customers are treated to a hot, home-cooked meal. No one is turned away.
Johnson said that her heart floods at the sight of the crowd, which helps to melt her own troubles away.
“I been aching all day in the morning — feet, everything — dealing with my health,” she told WFAA. “But once I see these guys, all that goes away.”
Johnson, who grew up in a battered women’s shelter, knows what it’s like to go without. At the shelter, she learned how to cook and to give back.
“I just thank God for waking me up [to] do what I do today, because I know people out here struggling every day,” Johnson said.
Johnson said that while running a restaurant on her own isn’t easy, she only spends money on absolute necessities for her and her family to ensure that she has enough to give back.
“It’s still hard for me, but I’m just worried about everybody that I could help,” she said. “It’s just me, and if I can help and put smiles on people’s face, that’s all I need.”
Johnson invited singer Capt. Jack Watson, who used to be homeless himself, to perform during Monday lunches.
“Just hug them and inspire them and let them know, somebody up there still cares, still loves,” Watson said. “Never look down on anybody because you never know, the next day that person might be up, and I’m a living example.”
Barbara Jameson, who smiled as she was served a hot meal this past Monday, expressed her gratitude toward Johnson’s generosity.
“I just feel blessed that somebody is out here to care [for] people like us,” she said.
In addition to serving the needy on Mondays, Johnson regularly takes leftover food to homeless shelters, never throwing anything away, she said.