Jimboy’s Tacos is looking to the future

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Laura Newell, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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Melted cheese, ground beef, parmesan cheese and a unique blend of flavorful spices says only one thing — Jimboy’s Tacos. The corporate-owned store is reaching out to the community through support and activities with a new look and attitude starting in Folsom. “We want to have community involvement,” said Karen Knudson Freeman, Jimboy’s president. “Folsom is a tight community and we want to be able to work with our community. We are all here together and depend on each other, so we want to include the community, groups and other businesses. We are involved in the Folsom chamber and becoming more involved.” The restaurant has been in Folsom since the mid-1990s. “It’s always been almost unnoticeable,” Freeman said. “So in that vital area, we thought it would be a great test store with a new look, new technology and more ... involvement. We are (testing) some different ideas and draw attention to the quality of our food to make Jimboy’s the best it can be.” She said the quality of ingredients is very high, so they wanted to “marry” that high quality with their look. “This test store is to bring attention to Jimboy’s and the attention to the quality of our food,” Freeman said. The history of Jimboy’s dates back to Freeman’s childhood. Freeman, 54, of El Dorado Hills, is the daughter of Jimboy’s founder James Knudson and Margaret “Margo” Knudson, 91. James passed away last year and lived to be 91 years old. “My mother and father owned several restaurants before Jimboy’s,” she said. “One night a friend invited them over for traditional tacos at their house. So, my father being a restaurant owner, saw the universal potential of tacos.” She said he then got to work creating a taco that tasted good to him, which didn’t necessarily follow traditional recipes. “He had a very good pallet and used his knowledge of spices and flavors to make this unique taco,” she said. “He has a Norwegian background. So he didn’t try to make an authentic taco, just something that tasted good to him.” She explained that he first had trouble selling his tacos. He literally parked a trailer outside and hoped for the best. Then eventually, he wrote “Jimboy’s Spanish Tacos” on the trailer. Soon, business picked up. James parked his taco trailer in King’s Beach Lake Tahoe. After meeting Joe King, beach owner, King built James a permanent location in King’s Beach to sell tacos during the summer seasons. More recipes were also added to the Jimboy’s menu. “It was an interesting childhood because we would always live in Tahoe during the summers to run the restaurant,” Freeman said. “We also had frequent famous visitors including members of the ‘Rat Pack.’” She said long hours and a strong work ethic were always steady in their family business though. “I can remember my mother waking up very early to prepare the food, from 7 a.m. to midnight, with one break in the middle of the day,” she said. “And my dad did the same thing everyday.” In the 1960s, James opened a restaurant in Sacramento. “Today we have 41 Jimboy’s Tacos in Sacramento and the surrounding areas,” Freeman said. “We also have some in Reno, Sparks and Carson City, Nev.” Freeman said more restaurants are planned. “We want to expand, nationally and internationally, we have a lot of interest,” she said. “We are on an aggressive schedule at this point in having this happen within the next year or two. We are definitely ready to expand and we are very excited.” Still, the family restaurant will remember its roots. “We have a very unique history, not many Norwegians open a successful Mexican restaurant,” Freeman said. “So we are thrilled — and I still love our tacos.”