Just Tacos History

What started as a college project and dream to own a business for Jesus Santoyo has become a reality. While attending Cal State University, Long Beach Jesus Santoyo created a restaurant named Just Tacos Mexican Grill.

In this project he detailed how he would travel the different regions of Mexico and acquire the most authentic recipes to share with his customers. In addition to the authentic recipes acquired while in Mexico, he also chose to incorporate his grandmother “Grande’s” recipes, which have been passed down for several generations.

With encouragement and great feedback from his professor in Cal State, Jesus was determined to open up Just Tacos. Mr. Santoyo set out to get finances for the restaurant, but only to be met with rejection from several banks stating, “No restaurant can succeed by just selling tacos”. If only Mr. Santoyo had kept the bank’s contact information he would have loved to call them and tell them how well his restaurant is doing.

In 2005, after saving enough money and with additional financial support from his parents, Jesus Santoyo decided to pursue his dream and opened his own business.

As detailed in his college project, he travelled to different regions of Mexico acquiring authentic recipes. Each time he arrived at a different pueblo (city), he would ask local people where he could find the city’s best authentic food.

In Mexico, like other places in the world, each region is known for a particular plate or dish. Once Mr. Santoyo tasted and enjoyed the food, he would then negotiate with the owners to purchase the recipe. Mr. Santoyo also wanted to capture the true essence of each dish, so he apprenticed for two weeks alongside kitchen staff and grandmothers “abuelitas” in each restaurant or family home.

This hand-ons experience of traveling around Mexico months is one of the key factors as to how Mr. Jesus Santoyo managed to build a successful restaurant that offers delicious authentic Mexican food.

The first Just Tacos Mexican Grill opened in Downtown Honolulu in the heart of the business district. The response from the customers was overwhelmingly good.

At that point Mr. Santoyo knew he had something special and started to imagine a franchise. He said “If In-N-out, that sells only burgers can become so successful why not a franchise that specializes in selling Just Tacos.

During his travels, he acquired a 200+ year old recipe to make fresh corn tortillas. So when it was time to expand the Just Tacos franchise, Mr. Santoyo has collaborated with local Hawaiian company “Sinaloa Tortillas” to produce his family’s 200-year old recipe served no where else in the world.


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