ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — A couple who moved from California to West Michigan is opening a new taco shop in downtown Rockford.

(A photo provided by Kaitlin King-Lamas shows F’n K Tacos at 110 Courtland St. in Rockford.)

F’n K Tacos will host a soft opening with a limited menu Tuesday. The restaurant’s name is shorthand for the first names of its owners: Francisco (Frank) Lamas and Kaitlin King-Lamas.

“We want to be punny and this is fun. It’s just us,” King-Lamas said.

POP-UP SUCCESS

F’n K Tacos is next to Pinball Land at 110 Courtland St. in the storefront that was previously home to Underground Cookie Club. With the help of family, the couple spent the past two months renovating the 700-square-foot space to accommodate about nine customers inside and another dozen on the new outdoor patio.

(Photos provided by F’n K Tacos shows the storefront at 110 Courtland St. in Rockford before (left) and after (right) renovations.)

The owners hope to hold a grand opening celebration July 9, which will also mark five years since they launched their taco concept at a pop-up event in their former hometown of San Luis Obispo, California.

(An undated photo provided by F’n K Tacos shows some of the tacos created by co-owner Francisco Lamas.)
(A photo provided by F’n K Tacos shows Francisco Lamas with his father at their family restaurant in California.)

“We just literally dove into the deep end. We sold 700 tacos that day … and we were just exhausted, but it showed us we can do this,” said King-Lamas.

King-Lamas grew up in Greenville. Her career took her to Chicago, New York and eventually California where she met her husband, Frank Lamas.

The couple’s taco restaurant represents a major career pivot for Lamas, who spent about 30 years in the printing and packaging industry, according to King-Lamas. Before that, Lamas grew up working in his parent’s restaurant in Pamona, California.

“That just got into his blood and he wants to get back to it,” King-Lamas said.

MOVING TO MICHIGAN

In April 2020, when much of the nation started shutting down because of the pandemic, the couple packed up and moved across the country.

“I knew I wanted to come back to Michigan. I missed it, I missed the seasons,” King-Lamas said.

Lamas and King-Lamas stayed with family for a couple months before they spotted their next home in Rockford. They bought it before ever stepping foot in it — a gamble King-Lamas says paid off.

“We are so excited to be in Rockford and we have amazing neighbors,” she said.

In April, they doubled down on Rockford, leasing their downtown storefront.

(Photos provided by F’n K Tacos shows owners Francisco Lamas and Kaitlin King-Lamas and the sign hanging inside their store at 110 Courtland St. in Rockford.)

“We were really watching for the right space to be open for us and when we found it, we just knew it,” King-Lamas said.

FOOD AND FAMILY

Lamas’ parents are from Mexico. King-Lamas says their restaurant adds a twist to some of the flavors and foods from her husband’s childhood. Frank Lamas makes the tortillas and locally sources ingredients as much as possible from places like Rebel Farms in Rockford and Happy Hog Farm in Grant.

F’n K Tacos’ full menu will include taco staples like meatless, chicken, pork and carne asada beef tacos as well as special tacos like birria, jackfruit and el porquito. Prices will range from $4 to about $4.75 for the regular menu items.

(In this photo provided by F’n K Tacos, co-owner Frank Lamas’ father cooks beef for tacos inside the new Rockford restaurant’s kitchen.)

King-Lamas says they had hoped to open F’n K Tacos on June 1 to be ready for Rockford’s Start of Summer Celebration, but pending permits led to delays. F’n K Tacos finally held its first three-hour soft opening event Saturday with friends and family who pitched in with the restaurant. That includes Frank Lamas’ father, who is back in the kitchen for now helping the budding business perfect its process.

“There’s only so much we can do and we’ve done it all ourselves with the help of family. They’ve been critical,” King-Lamas said.

WHAT’S NEXT

F’n K Tacos plans to add seating to its back patio in the next couple weeks. King-Lamas is also considering adding soups to the menu this winter.

King-Lamas says they eventually plan to pursue a license to sell beer and wine, allowing them to take advantage of being inside the Rockford Outdoor Refreshment Area boundaries.