Food and Family

Some families love food—and then there are families whose very foundations are built on food and they grow from there. Jennifer Maiser, of Life Begins @ 30, tells the story of one such family in a moving blog post, “The Tacos that Built a Family.” It seems that Maiser’s grandfather, who worked as a migrant fruit picker in his youth, parlayed an insurance injury settlement into the purchase of a taco restaurant in the Los Angeles area.

The Taco House provided the foundation for all that followed. “It’s hard to know where our family would be had grandpa not come to Los Angeles, or had he not owned the Taco House,” Maiser writes. Various family members worked in the business over the 25 years that her grandfather ran it, and the Taco House developed a loyal following. “Every once in a while, someone who had just been released from jail would come into the Taco House because they’d been craving Taco House food in the slammer,” she writes. “Celebrities also came into the Taco House—sometimes limos would pull up and people like Barry White and the singers of the Fifth Dimension would come in to get their taco fix.”

Bill’s Taco House became part of the community landscape. Maiser’s grandfather was committed to supporting his customers and neighborhood.

Grandpa was really well known in the community. It’s still a treat to run into people who went to Bill’s as kids in the sixties and seventies and talk to them about what they remember. Aside from selling popular food, he provided the land for a Head Start school next door to the Taco House that is there to this day, and gave back to the community in many other ways. When the Watts riots occurred in 1965, neighbors urged grandpa to leave as the riots were breaking out, and spray painted ‘brother’ on the wall of the Taco House. The Taco House was saved from being burned or looted while businesses all around were destroyed.

For a portrait of the role that food and community and kindness played in one family’s life, read the full story.