There's a saying in Kern County—folks here are more “West Texas” than “West Coast”
Perhaps that's true given the landscape of our states and the industry that dominates—And while both California and Texas share agriculture and oil, they also share of love of food and the family bonds created with it.
In central Bakersfield, a piece of that Texas pride alive juts off Oak Street—Where Jake's Tex Mex has been going strong for nearly 30-yeas—a family who fell into the restaurant business now falling in love with their community and the food they serve.
If you’ve been to Jake's Tex Mex during the lunch hour, you know it’s a fast-paced, family focused operation—where the perfection of Kern County 'tex-mex’ is all they do—But long before the pit beef, and garlic chicken—long before the loaded burritos and salad lites—founder Skip Slayton was doing all he could to support his family.
“I wouldn't say it was my passion for food, as much as it was my passion to feed my children,” Slayton said.
Skip, along with his brother Rick began their journey in the wholesale and retail meat business in the late 70’s. By 1988 Skip decided to take knowledge of the business and his love of Kern County BBQ—and open his first restaurant.
“We wanted to do something really good, and make enough money to do it.,” Slayton recalled. “Fortunately we had a nice base product that was working out very well for Kern County, the pit beef, salad and bread."
Since the 80's Jake's Tex Mex growing into the trusted spot to get authentic tex-mex—born out of Skip's early memories of Kern County BBQ.
“We got the inspiration basically, it all comes from when I was a kid, in the early 60’s, we had massive pit beef BBQ's' out at hart park as kids.”
Those memories of BBQ and Skip's love of Texas memorabilia surround customers as they enjoy their meal.
And the walls of the restaurants encased in thousands of pictures Skip says services as a tribute to all family's who have come to Jake's over the years.
His daughter now joining in that tradition.
“When you're in the restaurant business you're in it, there is no other way,” said Sarah Slayton-Price.
She has now been leading the restaurant, and their many employees during the last decade, showing us all they do. “Fresh is key, and that's the thing I’m proudest of,” she said as we toured the kitchen.
Proud of the product all made from scratch in their small kitchen—including their extremely popular desserts that all began with their chocolate sheet cake, since branching off into creative cookies.
Those desserts and their delicious food-prepped by more than 30 employees work for hours—from the cowboy potatoes and the popular pit beef.
Great food, made by a great—and it all began right here in Kern County.