Ana Jimenez stands next to one of her Tacos el Jerry food trucks, which serve the entire Central Coast and beyond. (Contributed)

SALINAS — In 1994, Ana Jimenez made her journey from her hometown Sinaloa, Mexico, to Salinas. She was a newlywed to Gerardo Jimenez, and together, they vowed to work hard and make the best of it living in a foreign country.

“I told myself, ‘I am going over there to succeed!’” she said. 

Ana was only 23 and her husband was 26. Their goal was not only to see success but to share it with others.

Ana tells how she began learning English by carrying a dictionary with her while cleaning medical offices. 

A few years after her arrival, she began to work for a lunch truck. Ana loved the job. She learned the business of providing good service and good food and found out that she was good at it. People loved her.

“You have to respect the client and have love for what you do,” she said. 

Ana is known for her bubbly personality and is well-liked in the community.

She and her husband soon invested in their first food truck. Then a second followed. With a degree in finance, Ana, 51, became the administrator of the business; Gerardo, 54, takes care of the trucks and equipment, while Jerry, 26, handles event bookings, marketing and public relations. It is a family affair.

Ana Jimenez and her husband Gerardo first started with food booths at local street events. (Contributed)

In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, they named the business after their son — Tacos el Jerry — based in Watsonville. It became the best-known taco truck in the area and beyond. They were so busy that they had to take short breaks and naps alternatively in order not to stop serving the community.

“We must respect the business at all times,” she said. “We all love our job — I love what I do.”

That was the start of something big for the family. Today, they have 19 employees and five food trucks. Ana is also in charge of the only food truck commissary in three counties — all food trucks in the area must get certified and cleaned at this location before going off to work.

As a female business owner, she knew it takes a village to succeed and she found support in a variety of places.

“Bank of America initially helped Ana with establishing business accounts and providing a secure way of tracking incoming payments and outgoing expenses,” said Guadalupe Soria, assistant vice president, small business banker at Bank of America, Capitola. “The services she uses, such as mobile banking, also can make her life a bit easier.”

As the business grew, Jimenez found Bank of America as their best ally in keeping their business and personal finances in order over the past 10 years — and she attributes part of her success to the financial guidance and support she continues to get from her small business banker, Soria.

“The people at my BofA branch have my best interest as a priority; they make me feel valued like I am a part of their family,” she said. 

Ana has worked with her banker to also receive loans to purchase her commercial vehicles and is using Merrill Wealth Management to strategize her income and investments. 

“Ana is a client who is open to different expert advice and is always looking to grow her knowledge — which then helps her business success,” added Soria.

Ana Jimenez and her family are in charge of at least 50 food trucks in the tri-county area. (Contributed)

Tacos el Jerry is known locally and statewide. Many accolades have been added to their repertoire, including Best Food Truck by the Pajaronian 2022-23 and by KSBW-TV in 2023. In addition, the New York Times featured them in 2021 for providing good service but also for their role in keeping essential workers fed during the pandemic.

“We always looked ahead and kept going during Covid,” she said. “We made sure hospitals, fire departments, etc., had food to eat.”

The SF Gate magazine wrote an article last year for having the best tacos and for the service Tacos el Jerry provides to the community.

“It takes a lot of work and effort to have a business like this one,” she said. “We work sometimes from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., but we now have a good system that we know very well.”

These work hours do not scare her or her family. Ana serves as a role model to many in her Salinas and Watsonville communities, where she inspires entrepreneurship and having big dreams. As a family, they mentor youth and provide internships and jobs to those who need to earn a salary or wish to learn about the food truck business.

The Jimenez family is in charge of at least 50 food trucks in the tri-county area through Biwise-Commissary, and although they are very busy, they find time to support local youth sports, youth programs and other nonprofits in the area.

“We are so happy to have our dreams come true and what I recommend everyone — women and men alike — is to not stop dreaming, and to also be sure and have good business advisers like those at Bank of America to guide you through fulfilling those dreams,” she said.

During stressful times or even down times in the middle of the day, Ana finds time to play chess with her son or build a puzzle. When they take time off, spending that time with friends and family is what they value the most.

“I am living the American dream!” she said. “But we are not done — we will expand the business to offer hot dogs and open a barber shop; our goal is to serve the community and provide jobs plus great service.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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