The Royer family said farewell to its beloved matriarch last week.
You might know the Royers through their famed Royers Round Top Cafe in Round Top, a destination for anyone hitting the antiques trail in Fayette County east of Austin. It’s also a place that draws crowds for its fried chicken and pies, and maybe a hug from one of the family members and staffers who have been working there since they took over the cafe in 1987.
Karen Royer, who died unexpectedly Aug. 8, was a strong presence at the cafe over the years, but she also had a noted career in psychology, earning a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Texas A&M and teaching at Southeastern University. She worked with countless families, couples and individuals over the years and wrote two books, one about running the cafe, "Royers' Round Top Café: A Relational Odyssey," and another called "Random Thoughts: Pursuing Life with Passion" about the lessons she’d learned through her counseling career.
Karen and Bud Royer met at the University of Texas in 1972 and were married in 1973. They had four children and took over Royers Round Top Cafe in 1987. Their son, Jonathan, and his wife, Jamie-Len, now run the cafe, and Tara Royer Steele and her husband, Rick, run Royers Pie Haven nearby.
Royer Steele, who started working at the family cafe at age 12, now lives in Brenham, where she and her husband, Rick, run All Things Acres, an event space for retreats and workshops.
She has built her own career as a writer and speaker, and earlier this year she published her first book, "Eat. Pie. Love: 52 Devotions to Satisfy Your Mind, Body, and Soul" (BroadStreet Publishing Group, $16.99). It’s a devotional book filled with Royer Steele’s favorite Scripture passages, as well as recipes, paintings and insights into the lessons she’s learned throughout her career as a cafe owner and blogger. (You can stay up to date on her posts through tararoyersteele.com.)
Many of the book’s official launch events were canceled because of the coronavirus, but Royer Steele’s podcast, "Jesus, Pie and Coffee" continues, and you can learn some of her favorite dishes through cooking videos, which are also on the site.
Royer Steele and her siblings are continuing the legacy their parents started through the Pie With a Purpose program, which raises money for veterans’ organizations through online pie sales. For many years, Royers has shipped its famous pies around the country, as many as 5,000 during a holiday season. You can now buy those pies year-round through royers.goldbelly.com.