NAMPA, Idaho — Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, and Idaho News 6 is joining the celebration in 2021 with Hispanic Heritage Week! We're sharing stories of community leaders, resources, and more, all making a difference for Idaho's Hispanic and Latino communities.
One of those local leaders is restaurateur Irma Valdivia, the owner and founder of Treasure Valley Jalapeno's restaurants. Valdivia says one of her favorite quotes is, "I started from the bottom, now I'm here," and the upbeat, ambitious entrepreneur has certainly proven she knows how to move on up!
Valdivia was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, but those Hispanic roots quickly branched out to the Gem State. "I moved to Emmett, Idaho when i just under 10 years old so I have spent most of my life in this beautiful state," says Valdivia.
And she definitely wasn't alone in that move, arriving in Idaho with her parents and ten siblings.
"I'm a child who was brought to Idaho to work in the fields to help Idaho become a better state," Valdivia tells Idaho News 6.
And as you can imagine, feeding that large working family was no small task. "Cooking was a big part of our lives, and my mom was an amazing cook," she says.
Her mom's cooking is what sparked her love of food, but it was a stint at her uncle's restaurant in Arkansas to stoke her love of service.
"I just thought that was the best job in the world," she recalls, "and [I] started learning how to be part of a restaurant, and then moved back to Nampa, Idaho to start my first location."
The Nampa location opened its doors in 2006, and since then Valdivia has expanded, opening up two more Jalapeno's restaurants in Boise with two of her siblings.
"We realized early on that this wasn't just a business," she says. "[We realized] that if we were going to be here, we were going to be a part of what made Idaho so great, and that was being a person of dignity and someone that people could look up to."
Valdivia takes great pride in the authentic, fresh ingredients served in all three Jalapeno's locations, where veggies are chopped by hand daily and the meat is never frozen. And while the food and drinks are fantastic, Valdivia's true calling is her customers.
"I believe that I was put on this earth to serve others. I didn't realize I'd be serving you margaritas and burritos but that is a wonderful part of it."
To check out the menu at Jalapeno's and learn about all three locations, you can find them online here.