This winter, the Robledo family will celebrate 50 years of operating Roberto’s Taco Shop. When patriarch Roberto Robledo opened his first store with his wife and then-nine children, they sold just one item, tortillas. Today, the operation has grown to over 65 stores across the desert Southwest serving over 70 menu items, and three generations of Robledos have helped shape the business.
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Building a successful chain of taco shops would be an achievement for anyone, but particularly one for a man who was raised under the meager conditions of Roberto Robledo’s childhood. Living in a home made of mud and hay, Robledo quit going to school in first grade to help his family collect and sell firewood from the surrounding countryside in Central Mexico. A drought in that region in the 1940s forced Robledo to search for his livelihood in the United States, where he held several jobs, sometimes at the same time, working on the railroad, as a migrant farm worker or doing other types of manual labor.
It wasn’t until 1957 that Robledo had his first experience in the food industry. That year he settled his family of then-seven children and wife, Dolores, in Lancaster, California, taking a second job waiting tables at a popular Mexican restaurant. Some years later, Robledo took that knowledge of the food industry and opened his own tortilleria in a suburb of San Diego. With an initial investment of $30 a month for a small shop with a counter fronting along the main thoroughfare of San Ysidro, Robledo began his empire. Using his wife’s tortilla recipe, he spent as many as 18 hours a day making and selling tortillas. Soon after that, Robledo saw an opportunity to expand his business and began adding other items to his menu. It wasn’t long before Robledo’s customers convinced him to open more locations and expand on his menu. Always keeping in mind their focus on food and family, Roberto was careful to teach his children the importance of hard work. “All 13 children grew up working at our locations,” says Reyna Robledo, daughter and eleventh child of Roberto and Dolores. “My father was always a hard worker and taught us that hard work was always rewarding.” Her early memories of the family operation include working alongside her siblings on weekends and after school doing such tasks as cashiering, preparing food, cleaning tables and cutting bell peppers.
The Robledos have lovingly built a strong business that has grown and evolved over the decades. Although Roberto Robledo passed away in 1999, his family has continued to operate Roberto’s Taco Shop in accordance with the patriarch’s original concept of serving fresh, authentic, quality food at modest prices. “Our family has always been proud to serve a first rate, quality product,” says Reyna Robledo. Fresh meat and produce are delivered daily to each location and all items on the menu are made on site. Nothing is ever frozen. “That’s at the heart of Roberto’s Taco Shop’s freshness and taste.” The family’s recipe for success has worked for half a century and has more recently been recognized by the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s 2012 ‘Best of Las Vegas’ Reader’s Poll as a favorite spot for tacos.
Although each location serves up at least 40 pounds of beans each day, Reyna Robledo says, “We are most known for our rolled tacos with shredded beef or chicken inside and topped with our fresh guacamole.” Other popular menu items include their daily in-store value specials, like 99-cent chicken tacos every Wednesday. The family plans to offer a special anniversary platter this winter as they reintroduce one of Roberto’s original recipes from 1964, Chili Colorado. What happens after 50 years of business for Roberto’s Taco Shop? Reyna Robledo says she and her family “will continue to serve the public our menu items with the freshest quality in fast Mexican food.”
The menu, daily value deals and locations for Roberto’s Taco Shop can be found online at www.Robertostacoshop.com
“Real Mexican Food…You’ll Like.”