In 1958, 12-year-old Larry and 10-year-old Pete Atencio began selling beef tacos and red pork tamales on Española’s main street.
Their mother Frances made the tacos and tamales. Their father Luis bought the boys a patio umbrella for their stand to protect them from the elements, but they spent much of their time running the food out to the line of waiting cars. A taco sold for 15 cents and tamales were 10 cents. The stand was only open during the summer months, and a good day’s sales totaled $20.
At that time, Frances and Luis were working as a secretary and a plumber, respectively, and raising nine children.
“Cuisine was always a part of my mother’s life, from her mother and her grandmother,” said Angela Atencio-Sanchez, president of the local chain’s umbrella organization, Las Brazas Enterprises. “Both my parents, they loved to give, and they loved to do it with food. So she would make this food and take it to her office for her coworkers. And they would tell her, ‘This is really good. You really should think about selling it.’”