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Serving Up Smiles For Generations: Happy Jack's approaches 48th anniversary in downtown Bakersfield

The Rosales family has run Happy Jack's for almost 50 years, and they say they're dedicated to giving back to their community
Posted at 5:08 AM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 14:39:33-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Happy Jack's is approaching a special anniversary, and the Rosales family says they're grateful to have met so many people.

  • Video shows Happy Jack's co-owners, Frances and Ruben Rosales, reminiscing on the past 48 years, and sharing their gratitude for the community.
  • The Rosales family bought Happy Jack's 48 years ago, and since then, they've maintained its old-school diner feel and welcoming environment. They say they've met people from all over the world, and they're grateful for the community's support.
  • Every Monday, they give back to the local Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House. Once they account for expenses, 100% of their earnings are donated—a tradition they've had for over 10 years.


Whether you’re just passing through or live locally in Bakersfield, you’ve probably heard of Happy Jacks. This May, they’re getting ready for a special anniversary.

“We were young back there. We grew old here,” said Frances Rosales.

Frances runs Happy Jacks with her husband, Ruben.

She says a man named Jack first started the business in 1963, 13 years before they bought it.

“Then Ruben and I picked it up, and I’m happy to say on May 17 we will have been here 48 years,” she said.

Since they opened, Frances says they’ve worked hard to maintain the true diner feel. They’re cash only, and to keep prices down, it’s entirely family-run. Frances and her sister serve customers, and Ruben is out back cooking.

Ruben says the past 48 years have flown by.

“I look back at all of the people that I met, and a lot of people aren’t here anymore," said Ruben. "And I think, ‘Damn, where has time gone?’”

When they aren’t open, Ruben says you can still find him there, prepping for the week ahead. It’s peaceful, he says, until...

“The only thing I have to worry about is if they see the lights on, they’re doing this to the door trying to pry it open,” he laughed.

Every Monday, Ruben and Frances do something special for their community.

“It’s much more than–It’s not even a business transaction for me. They are my family,” said Scarlett Sabin.

Sabin is the director of Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House, a nonprofit that gives families a place to stay while their child receives medical care.

Each Monday, Ruben and Frances donate their earnings to the house. It's a tradition they've had for over 10 years.

“I remember when Ruben walked through the door just over 10 years ago. He and his family wanted to do something where 100% stays local," Sabin said. "So, every check that they give me, 100% goes to support our house.”

Frances and Ruben say their love for the community is at the heart of what they do.

“Why not just stay here like me? Give back to Kern County. I was poor when we started…I didn’t have anything," Ruben said. "I appreciate what this community gave me–It’s close to my heart.”

If you'd like to support the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House, you can stop by Happy Jacks next Monday. Direct donations can be made on their website. To get involved, Bakersfield RMH says to call (661) 437-4130. Happy Jacks is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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