Photo Credit: Jeff Barnhart (IG: @knownphotography_)
Austin, Texas' First Pancake Food Truck Is Black-Owned But It's Not A Breakfast Spot
John Paul Udenenwu, better known as JP, is the owner of Austin’s first pancake food truck, JP’s Pancake Company. He grew up poor in Missouri City, TX, his father murdered at a young age, leaving his mother to raise five children on her own. JP currently lives in Austin, where he has resided for the past 10 years.
While one may typically think of pancakes as a breakfast item, JP points out that his truck does not open in the mornings. His business is a gourmet dessert shop, open for dinner and what he calls “dessert hours.”
“All of our desserts start with three pancakes of your choice. We call that the base. Then you can build onto that with a variety of syrups and glazes, fruit, nuts, and much more. We also have a pretty cool Certified Banger Menu, which consists of creations we came up with in-house that are guaranteed to be amazing.”
Base pancake options include delectable flavors such as milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, plain pancakes, and the seasonally-offered pumpkin spice. Glazes and syrups come in strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, and caramel flavors. And all pancakes come standard with whipped cream and powdered sugar.
Growing up, JP was a talented basketball player and always planned to pursue a career in the sport. However, things beyond his control ultimately led to the disappointing end of that dream. Feeling heartbroken and defeated, around age 17 or 18, JP felt he was truly at his lowest point.
“That’s when God was able to get my attention. I realized I was desperately in need of another way, and Jesus offered so much hope; enough for me to be convinced that following Him was the way, the truth, and full life. I felt Him call me to Austin, so I moved there.”
In Austin, JP began working at a Taco Cabana. One day, his manager left some pancake mix behind, and in that instant, JP felt the craving and urge to make pancakes, with no appetite for anything else.
“Before that, I had never really made a pancake, to my knowledge. I made some, gave them to my coworkers, and they were a huge hit. I was addicted to the joy those pancakes brought in that moment and never looked back. I wonder if my former manager will ever know that, in the most random way, she was a huge part of my story.”
In January 2019, JP opened JP’s Pancake Company, the first and only pancake food truck in Austin and possibly in the whole state of Texas. Without having to spend a dollar on advertising, the dessert shop has become a major hit with Austin foodies, completely by word-of-mouth. No gimmicks necessary; just a simple, warm, and inviting design and aesthetic, and a stack of three delicious 4.5-inch pancakes loaded with toppings.
Customer favorites include The Classic, The Strawberry Banana Babe, The Keyshia Cole, The Pancake of the Month, and The Sunday Morning (although ironically, the truck is not open on Sundays.) Despite his success, however, JP remains humble and gives all the glory to God.
“I like to let people know that I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing. I feel like a fraud sometimes because on social media, it portrays that we’re a lot more successful than what I feel like sometimes. But that’s also me being hard on myself, and so it is cool to hear other peoples’ perspectives on my accomplishments. This is definitely a God thing, and completely a faith journey for me. I’m a follower of Jesus, and I’ve come to accept the reality that He has a distinct plan for my life and the purpose is to point people to Him.”
JP’s Pancake Company wants to make sure its customers are aware that they play a major role in the brand’s success. It shows its love and appreciation for the local community by giving back. From cash and prizes to free events, JP’s Pancake Company has put thousands of dollars back into the community.
A second location is currently in the works, and is scheduled for its grand opening on January 20, JP’s birthday. For now, you can find the original JP’s at 2512 Rio Grande Street in Austin. You can also follow the company on Instagram and Facebook for updates.