The American dream is alive and well in a new Farmer Boys going up on Prescott Road.
The eatery will be the 14th owned by Modesto businessman Rafael Armenta Sr., who has turned franchising restaurants in the Central Valley into a mini-empire. And now he is sharing his dream with his son, creating a second generation of success.
After immigrating from Mexico, Armenta Sr. began working as a cook in El Pollo Loco in Los Angeles in 1980. He then worked his way up from cook to general manager and supervisor. In 1994 he moved from L.A. to Modesto to take over as owner of his very first El Pollo Loco. He still owns the restaurant on Plaza Parkway.
Since then he has opened nine other El Pollo Locos in the region, from Merced to Sacramento, as well as three Dickey’s Barbecue Pit restaurants including the locations in Riverbank and Turlock. The 54-year-old now partners with his son, Rafael Armenta Jr., and together they run the franchises and employ some 500 workers.
“The restaurant business is a never ending novella, but a nice novella to be in. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, so I’ve seen it all,” said Armenta Jr., 30.
The Farmer Boys on Prescott near the corner of Briggmore Avenue will be the Armenta family’s first foray into the franchise and the first one in Modesto. The region’s other Farmer Boys opened in Riverbank’s Crossroads shopping center in 2009 and on Mitchell Road in Ceres in 2012.
The Armentas said they were attracted to the company’s farm-to-table approach to quick service dining.
“They’re about having fresh products. That’s what we want to stick with, not just typical fast food. We want to serve food that is nutritious and has value,” Armenta Jr. said.
Farmer Boys is known for its big hamburgers, cooked-to-order breakfasts served all day, chopped salads and wraps.
The new Modesto location is in the site of the old Teriyaki King, which was torn down to make way for the new construction. The 3,250-square-foot building will have a seating capacity of 85 and a drive-thru. The Armentas are currently hiring for all positions including management, cooks, cashiers and prep. They plan to have more than 40 employees by the time they open the week of Dec. 20.
But they’re not stopping with Modesto. The Armentas also plan to open a Farmer Boys in Turlock’s Monte Vista Crossings shopping center near the Home Depot and Buffalo Wild Wings. They hope to have it up and running by late 2018.
“I think restaurants play a big role in our community far as where people can come together. To me to it’s time to socialize with your family and catch a break,” Armenta Jr. said.
And, who knows, one of the employees they hire for the new restaurants might just start a little empire of their own some day — just like the Armentas.
The new Modesto Farmer Boys will be at 1701 Prescott Road. Applications available on site or online at www.farmerboys.com/careers.