In 1949, restaurant owners Jim and Margaret Knudson went to a friend's home for dinner where they ate their first taco. Jim was so convinced that this tasty product would have a universal appeal that he began to develop his own recipe. Jim soon added the new item to the menu at his restaurant “Jimmy's 49er Cafe” in Grass Valley, California. He admits that his customers were less than enthusiastic about trying this new “TAYCO”, but he was determined to give his unique new product his best effort.
In 1954, Jim and Margaret converted a 16-foot trailer into a mobile kitchen. A long-time customer had given Jim the nickname “Jimboy,” and so the words “Jimboy's Spanish Tacos” were painted on the sides of the trailer. The word Spanish was added in an attempt to help customers understand how to pronounce the word taco and, as Jimboy puts it, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
That summer, the couple towed their newly converted trailer up to King's Beach, Lake Tahoe. The response was a bit underwhelming that first year, but Jim and Margaret persisted in their efforts and soon people could not get enough of their tacos.
In the Spring of 1958, Joe King (owner of King's Beach) built a small building on North Tahoe Blvd. for the sole purpose of giving Jimboy's a more permanent home. The word “Spanish” was dropped from the name and the very first Jimboy's Tacos location was born. Soon, new items were developed and added to the menu, all bearing the unique and distinct flavor that was making Jimboy's Tacos more and more popular.
That little taco stand became a favorite of locals and tourists alike and was building quite a reputation. Due to its proximity to the casinos just over the Nevada state line, some very famous celebrities soon became regular customers. Members of the famous “Rat Pack” such as Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford were often seen enjoying tacos. Even a young Wayne Newton often appeared at the counter to place his order. The cast of the hit TV series Bonanza (filmed nearby) were also big fans of Jimboy's as Dan Blocker, Lorne Green and Michael Landon all made trips to King's Beach for tacos.
No longer needed at King's Beach, the taco trailer was moved down to the Denio's Auction Yard in Roseville, California and began selling tacos on the weekends during the fall & winter months. In 1961, a permanent taco stand was opened and today, though not in that same small taco stand, the Knudson family is still selling tacos during the busy weekends at Denio's.
In the years that followed, another location was opened in downtown Sacramento, California and shortly after, in 1965, Jimboy began franchising and the Jimboy's Tacos phenomenon grew. Although he wasn't actively involved in the operations in his later years, he was always very concerned about and monitored the style and quality of the food bearing his name up until his death in 2011 at the age of 95. As the number of Jimboy's Tacos locations continues to increase, our menu still reflects the distinct and authentic Mexican style food of which he and the generations that follow him are very proud. Many have tried and many continue to try duplicating our recipes and this is a testament to the quality and taste that has become synonymous with our name. Yet, while so many other restaurants create their food and recipes around trends and gimmicks, Jimboy's Tacos is unique for the simple fact that our food tastes great and always has.