An eatery that has big stakes in Folsom and spans Northern California and Nevada proudly bannering themselves as the “birthplace of The Original American Taco,” has reached a major milestone this month. Jimboy’s Tacos, which not only has a restaurant here but also calls Folsom home to its corporate headquarters is celebrating 70-years of dishing out its cherished family recipes across the region.

Jimboy’s Tacos launched its humble beginning back in 1954 in nearby Lake Tahoe. It was back then that Jim Knudson, who was known by the nickname of ‘Jimboy,’ introduced the company’s signature Original Ground Beef Taco that is still the “go to” item today on a menu that offers much more than it did in its early days.


“My grandfather Jim ‘Jimboy’ Knudson set up a small beachside trailer in Lake Tahoe back in 1954, and now 70 years later, we are humbled by the unwavering support of our loyal customers who have transformed Jimboy’s Tacos into the beloved staple it is today,” said Erik Freeman, Knudson’s grandson who is now the CEO of Jimboy’s Tacos who runs the family founded company from his Iron Point Road office in Folsom when he isn’t out visiting one of their many locations across the two western states.

Working out of the shoreside trailer for four years, Knudson and his family received overwhelming support from the local community and visitors that frequented the area, his tacos were even popular with some of the Hollywood stars in the early years according to Knudson. Members of the famous Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin were known to enjoy tacos when they visited Tahoe to perform at the casino’s.  The trailer also fed cast and crew members of the long known western television show Bonanza, which was filmed in Lake Tahoe and would often order tacos during local filming on what as best known as the Cartwright Ranch. 


After such success, Knudson decided to put down more permanent roots in 1958.  Joe King was the owner of King’s Beach and a huge fan of Jimboy’s Tacos and built a small building on North Tahoe Boulevard to give the eatery a more permanent home. It was the first structure that Jimboy’s dished out its Parmesan cheese dusted tacos it’s so famous for. What many don’t know, is that the trademark dosage of Parmesan was far from intentional when it first came about. 

“It’s a humble story, but it was actually an accident,” explained Freeman during a recent visit to Sacramento’s KFBK Radio where he served up tacos and other eats to hot Pat Walsh and crew of the nightly Pat Walsh Show. “He was just working making tacos back in the 50’s and it fell on the taco so he decided why not take a taste of it and rest of it is truly history. It was as simple as that and her ran with it.”


In 1968 the company Knudson decided to expand his concept beyond the shores of Lake Tahoe in what went down in history as one of the first franchising concepts in the nation. His bold move blossomed and into a network of more than 40 locations throughout California and Nevada. Knudson and his wife Margaret remained actively working in the business all the way up to 1983 when they decided to retired and passed the keys to the business over to their son, Scott Knudson. 


Although they had stopped grilling tacos, they remained active in creating flavorful foods as they set out on a mission to make the world’s best chili.  In 1987 they accomplished that feat, winning the prestigious International Chili Society Cookoff title. They repeated the grand task once again to become two time champions in 2006. 

Through the years  Jim and Margaret  were known to always would go out of their way to help others. They believed in giving back to the community that welcomed and supported each new restaurant to their neighborhood. It was this philosophy that prompted Jimboy’s Tacos “Dine and Donate” fundraising program that is in place today, offering a charitable donation to non-profit organizations that host a dining event at a Jimboy’s restaurant. Charities receive 20 percent of sales from guests who bring in a “Dine and Donate” flyer or show it on their smartphone. Since the fundraising takes place at the local Jimboy’s Taco restaurant, the money raised benefits the communities in which we love, work and play.


So how does a business that soared to success through delicious tacos celebrate a milestone of 70 years in business?  With tacos of course.  Throughout the month of May, all JImboy’s locations are offering customers a signature ground beef taco, complete with that parmesan cheese for just 70 cents with any $5 purchase at its restaurants. The promotion can be redeemed in person or through the Jimboy’s Tacos app and website, using the code “70ANNIVERSARY”.  The deal is limited to one redemption a day, per customer and more can be learned about the promotion at

Jimboy’s Founder Jim Knudson and his wife Margaret retired in 1984 and went on to compete in International Chili Competitions, winning twice. Today the Folsom based company oversees more than 40 locations. (Photos:Jimboys/Knudson family)
Jimboy’s Tacos began at King’s Beach in Lake Tahoe out of a small trailer. Today, the company has corporate offices based in Folsom and over 40 locations across California and Nevada.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.