Taqueria Jalisco opens new branch
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – From his post behind the cash register at Taqueria Jalisco, owner Manny Zepeda has seen a lot.
“In 21 years, I’ve seen sons become fathers, fathers become grandfathers,” Zepeda said. “I’ve had some of the same customers since day one.”
Zepeda is quick with smiles and fist bumps. He says hello and goodbye to everyone. He knows some people’s orders by heart, but he rarely jumps to conclusions. He has a simple philosophy when it comes to running a restaurant.
“My philosophy is start slow, serve good food and if one customer leaves happy, five come back,” Zepeda said.
Now, after more than two decades in business, Zepeda opened another branch, Jalisco Grill, just off Lake Tahoe Boulevard near Fat City. He’s passing his treat-customers-like-family style of management on to his son, George Zepeda, who will run the new location.
“I’m thrilled,” George Zepeda said. “It’s always been in the family, in the blood.”
Since Jalisco opened, it’s always been a family business, Manny Zepeda said. His daughter helps manage the original location.
Other than a new building, not much differs between the two restaurants. The green salsa is tangy. The red salsa is spicy. The burritos are hulky and grilled. The tacos are stacked with meat. (The menu has been the same since the day Jalisco opened.) The prices are the same. (They haven’t changed in four years.) George Zepeda even offers a similar smile and friendly fist bump.
“It was an opportunity,” Manny Zepeda said. “The space became available. I got help.”
It’s not the first time Jalisco has tried to expand, however. In 1990, Manny Zepeda tried to open a location in Zephyr Cove. It didn’t last long, he said. But now, Manny Zepeda believes location doesn’t matter as much as word of mouth.
“You can have a location up in the woods if you have good service, good prices and good quality,” he said.
The new location had a line out the door Thursday afternoon. South Lake Tahoe resident Gary Greenfest sat near the window, trying different dishes. He’s been a Jalisco patron since it opened. He’s happy the new location is closer to his home.
“They make you feel more than welcome,” Greenfest said. “It’s one of those things that’s self-explanatory once you’ve been here.”
Farther back, Manny Zepeda sat munching on fajitas with his grandaughter on his lap.
“This is the only place I go to eat out,” he said with a smile.
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