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Wilfredo Dreams of Curly Fries: This Immigrant From El Salvador Went From Mopping Floors To Having a Mini Jack in the Box Empire in L.A.

This profile celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month was made possible on L.A. Taco by Jack in the Box. 

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] bucket, a mop, and some cleaning spray at the local Jack in the Box in Sunland, California, is where it all began in 1984 for Wilfredo Herrera. Like many others in the United States, he started his dream: As an immigrant from El Salvador searching for a better life with the heart to work for it. 

His early days were nothing glamorous, of course. Cleaning the storefront, dining room, restrooms, and everything in between was not where Wilfredo envisioned himself to be for an extended amount of time, but he knew he wanted more. He only wanted to work at Jack in the Box for six months, although his focus shifted when he realized there was an opportunity to grow at his branch.

Wilfredo wanted to work at the fry station. To many, this career bump may be meager, but to an immigrant, a promotion nonetheless. After all, he was interested to learn how to cook those infamous 99-cent hard tacos, which by the way, outsell their burgers on an hourly basis.  “When I got that promotion, I was so excited to tell my mom. I told her, Mom, I am the fry cook now! She was so happy for me,” he says. 

A young Wilfredo.

Celebration of these small victories in stories like Wilfredo’s makes the ascend to the top sweeter. As an immigrant, these promotions are validations that the sacrifices made along the way were not in vain. They are small tributes to the moments when success seemed far-fetched. In the years that followed, Wilfredo fell in love with his work and with his employer. After 36 years of growth in Jack’s ranks in the Box, Wilfredo became a franchisee operator in his beloved city of Los Angeles. 

For Jack in the Box, this would not be a blind leap of faith. They saw a man unwavering in his convictions, wildly dedicated to their brand, and realized they had a fantastic opportunity. 

Wilfredo’s turning point was when he met the Dhillon family, a family that owns 31 franchise Jack in the Box locations around Southern California. He noted that his experience developing as a professional through the Jack in the Box brand was unique and nothing short of a blessing. Having an employer back his professional goals and providing him the support and confidence to reach them has become sparse nowadays. For Jack in the Box, this would not be a blind leap of faith. They saw a man unwavering in his convictions, wildly dedicated to their brand, and realized they had a fantastic opportunity. 

They were given a chance to rally behind someone who had dedicated their life to Jack in the Box and would help him bring his dreams to life. He recently opened a franchise a mile and a half away from the Rams Stadium, a prime location for any franchisee. “As an immigrant coming to the United States, I came here with a dream. I came here to be somebody in life. By finding my first job at Jack in the Box, and seeing what it turned out to be 36 years later is mind-blowing for me,” Wilfredo says. 

Angelenos all have a Jack in the Box story.

Angelenos all have a Jack in the Box story. Whether it's making a random pit stop for coffee and curly fries, dropping by for lunch to get the Jumbo Jack with cheese, or driving by to tame the late-night munchies with a couple of orders of those tacos; we have all got a Jack in the Box story. For Wilfredo, his story is a triumphant one: Maintenance man gets promoted to assistant Manager then Director of Operations and finally becomes a franchisee owner. He currently manages 31 locations and owns three franchises.

For the community, stories like this restore the feeling of hope and desire to strive that there is more than what their starting grounds have to offer. Wilfredo recognized his platform and dedicated himself to serving his community through his position as a franchise owner at Jack in the Box. 

He does events in schools neighboring his franchise locations geared to promote the value of earning an education and are tailored for these young minds. His logic? If he can do it, so can anyone else.  

Wilfredo also acknowledges that his experiences have been different and unique, “As a Latinx and Hispanic person, I can relate to the cultural backgrounds and challenges of a lot of our employees. I try to instill that understanding in our District Managers, Restaurant Managers, and throughout the teams so that we can work together to have positive work environments at all of our locations,” he says. 

For Wilfredo, success is not measured solely by how high he climbs, but it is measured by how many people’s lives he can touch and positively impact along the way. He does events in schools neighboring his franchise locations geared to promote the value of earning an education and are tailored for these young minds. His logic? If he can do it, so can anyone else.  

Through his journey as an immigrant and finding his footing within the Jack in the Box family, Wilfredo is a prime example of success despite having an unconventional start. 

Many wouldn’t believe that a maintenance job could lead you to own many franchises, but is anyone’s American Dream ever conventional? In this Angeleno’s story, it was the belief in something more significant, his company’s support, and his giving attitude that led him to his Los Angeles Dream.

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