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Roberto's Taco Shop: Fulfilling the American dream

Roberto's Taco Shop
Roberto's Taco Shop
dolores robledo robertos taco shop founder.jpg
Posted at 6:06 PM, Sep 15, 2023

NATIONAL CITY, Calif. (KGTV) — Since the 1960s, it's been hard to miss the bright yellow and orange motifs of Roberto's Taco Shops.

Anchor Kimberly Hunt spent time getting to know the family behind the iconic Mexican fast food chain, and found their story all began in the fields of San Diego.

Roberto's founders, Roberto and Dolores Robledo, immigrated from a village in Mexico called San Juan Del Salado, in the state of San Luis Potosi.

Their first jobs here were in the fields picking fruits and vegetables. Eventually, they got into the tortilla business before opening their first Mexican fast food restaurant, serving fresh food made daily.

"That burrito right on top is the surf and turf burrito and our #1 seller by far,” says Jose Robledo.

Roberto and Dolores have passed away, but many of their 13 children are now running the business. Jose, their youngest son, owns a shop in National City and nine other locations.

“I think my dad would be really proud of not just us, his kids, but the managers, the operators, the employees, and the connection that there is,” says Jose.

All 13 kids, other relatives and employees were given the chance to open their own restaurant. There are now more than 80 'Berto variations across the southwest.

Roberto believed in helping others, saying there's sunshine for everyone.

“My dad believes that the opportunity is there for everybody. And there's business there for everybody. And if you're loyal to your customers, and you make a good high quality product, you'll always have value in your in what you're selling. And people will always come to buy what you're selling,” says Jose.

ABC 10News spoke with one of those loyal customers. George Perez has been coming to the restaurant since he was a little boy. His dad, who was in the Navy, was the evening manager and he would spend time there just to be with his father.

"You know, with my dad working all the time, I would tag along and the family was gracious to let me come hang out and help out and whatnot," says Perez.

George is now 50 years old and living in Texas. But he had to visit Roberto's to pay homage and remember the man who was so good to his dad for so long.
"How he worked hard. And he recognized that my dad was a hard worker, and they got along good that way," says Perez.

The hard work and deep bonds has kept Roberto's strong. The restaurant chain will celebrate 60 years in business next month.