I’ve long been embarrassed to admit it, but Taco John’s is my favorite restaurant. It’s even in my Flickr stream. I’m not sure why I love them so much, but I do, and those that know me know I crave their fare. It’s not that their food is so uniquely tasty. It’s better than Taco Bell for instance, so it’s good enough to not kill you, but it’s not uncommonly good. I think it’s more that their food fits my personality. Not their brand, but their food. I’m not sure if I can explain that. The cheese, maybe? I don’t know.
However, the Taco John’s story isn’t all happy fun times for me. My Californian readers (or anyone who doesn’t live near one of these red dots) will notice they’ve never been to a Taco John’s. Maybe even never heard of Taco John’s. What this means is that the only time I get to visit my favorite restaurant is when I buy a $300 plane ticket to Minnesota (plus airfare for Steph and the pets) to visit my family there, and happen to stop off at Taco John’s, say, as the very first thing I do when I get off the plane. Hypothetically. And thus my craving continues regularly. I haven’t been to Minnesota since Christmas of 2005, and my craving has been growing ever since.
That’s what made a recent gift from my parents so difficult for me. They sent their well wishes on Steph’s and my seventh wedding anniversary. (It’s true what they say: marriage does keep getting sweeter and more wonderful if you nurture it. I used to think it was just Hallmark talk, but it’s really true.) They enclosed a kind gift for us to enjoy however we liked, perhaps with which to go out to dinner or a movie, or whatever. And then, in the height of insensitivity, they also included a small wooden “coupon-token” for a free Taco John’s taco.
I stared at it for probably ten minutes. My desire to redeem it was uncontainable, but for the fact that I couldn’t spring for the plane ticket. Typing furiously, I discovered the nearest location was only 223 miles from my house! Only! And Steph, wouldn’t it be fun to take a day to drive there for lunch and then be back in the valley for dinner? Hooray! No, she didn’t go for it. She decided that an early labor and having a baby randomly in Nevada didn’t sound like a nice weekend. Sheesh. Nevada’s nice! What’s she got against Nevada?
I was desperate. Desperate men do desperate things. So I called up Taco John’s and left them a message. I begged them to open a franchise in California. I told them how great The Valley was. I told them they were missing a massive audience. I told them my deepest, darkest desires.
Two days later, Lynne called.
"Hi Josh, this is Lynn at Taco John’s corporate office in Cheyenne. I got your message this morning. You were asking about Taco John’s in California. The reason we don’t have any there is because California is considered outside of our core territory. The core territory is the area which we have the best advertising opportunities, with a lot better brand recognition, and we are able to get product to the stores in those areas. Eventually we will probably be going into California, but I don’t see that as any time soon. However we have established that if a franchisee or a group of franchisees have the ability to build ten stores in three years or less, we would consider expanding into that area at that time. If you have any questions, you can call me back at 307-772-3949. Thanks, Josh. Bye."
Sooooo… anybody wanna open up ten Taco John’s locations with me? Anybody? It’s just three years. No?