Taco Bell is a Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties such as the exclusive Doritos Locos Tacos, gourmet-inspired Cantina Power Menu and lower calorie Fresco Menu. Taco Bell has nearly 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 36 million customers every week.
Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell, who first opened a hot dog stand called Bell's Drive-In in San Bernardino, California in 1962 in Downey, California. in 1967, the 100th restaurant opened at 400 South Brookhurst in Anaheim. Original Taco Bell's featured walk-up windows only, with no indoor seating or drive-thru service. In 1968, its first franchise location east of the Mississippi River opened in Springfield, Ohio. In 1970, Taco Bell went public with 325 restaurants.
In 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell from Glen Bell. On the night of November 19, 2015, the original Taco Bell building in Downey was moved to the Taco Bell Corporate Headquarters in Irvine, California. Several locations in the Midwestern United States were converted from Zantigo, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Mexican chain which PepsiCo acquired in 1986. In 1990, the Hot 'n Now chain was acquired. Taco Bell sold Hot 'n Now to a Connecticut company in 1997.
In 1991, Taco Bell opened the first Taco Bell Express in San Francisco. Taco Bell Express locations operate primarily inside convenience stores, truck stops, shopping malls, and airports. Taco Bell began co-branding with KFC in 1995 when the first such co-brand opened in Clayton, North Carolina. The chain has since co-branded with Pizza Hut and Long John Silver's as well.
In 1997, PepsiCo experimented with a new "fresh grill" concept, opening at least one Border Bell restaurant in Mountain View, California on El Camino Real (SR 82). Close to the time that PepsiCo spun off its restaurant business in 1997, the Border Bell in Mountain View was closed and converted to a Taco Bell restaurant which was still open in 2018.
In September 2000, up to $50 million worth of Taco Bell-branded shells were recalled from supermarkets. The shells contained a variety of genetically modified corn called StarLink that was not approved for human consumption. StarLink was approved only for use in animal feed because of questions about whether it can cause allergic reactions in people. It was the first-ever recall of genetically modified food (GMO). Corn was not segregated at grain elevators and the miller in Texas did not order that type. In 2001, Tricon Global announced a $60 million settlement with the suppliers. They stated that it would go to Taco Bell franchisees and TGR would not take any of it.
Yum! Brands subsidiary
PepsiCo spun out Taco Bell and its other restaurant chains in late 1997 in Tricon Global Restaurants. With the purchase of Yorkshire Global Restaurants, the owners of A&W and Long John Silver's chains, Tricon changed its name to Yum! Brands on May 16, 2002.
In March 2005, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) won a landmark victory in its national boycott of Taco Bell for human rights. Taco Bell agreed to meet all the coalition's demands to improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in its supply chain. After four years of aboycott, Taco Bell and Yum! Brands agreed to make an agreement called the CIW-Yum agreement with representatives of CIW at Yum! Brands headquarters.
Taco Bell began experimenting with fast-casual and urban concepts when it created U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom in 2014. The menu consists of tacos with American fillings, and did not sell food sold in Taco Bell restaurants such as burritos. It was launched in Huntington Beach, California in August 2014. U.S. Taco Co. closed on September 15, 2015 so the company could focus on its new similar Taco Bell Cantina concept, which featured special menu items and served alcohol. It opened its first location a few days later in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, followed by a location in San Francisco about a month later, located less than a block away from AT&T Park. In 2016, Taco Bell launched the Taco Bell Cantina flagship store located on the Las Vegas strip. This 24-hour restaurant hosts a variety of unique features including alcohol, new menu items, and a DJ. It was announced in August 2017 that the store would begin hosting weddings. Taco Bell Cantina currently has locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago (2 locations), Las Vegas, Austin, Fayetteville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Atlanta, Newport Beach, and plans to open soon in Somerville, MA. In March 2020, Taco Bell announced that it would be converting 3 of its suburban stores into Cantinas this year as part of a test run.
In March 2016, Taco Bell introduced private beta testing of an artificial intelligence bot on the messaging platform Slack designed to take orders of select menu items from local Taco Bell locations and have the orders delivered. Taco Bell plans to have a wider roll-out of this functionality in the coming months.
Previously, Taco Bell's hot sauces were only available in sauce packets at the Taco Bell chain itself. In February 2014, Taco Bell made its hot sauces available for purchase, sold in bottle form at grocery stores. These would be followed by further grocery store products including chips in May 2018 and shredded cheese in 2019. In September 2016, Taco Bell opened a pop-up in New York City in the SoHo, Manhattan area called the Taco Bell VR Arcade. Taco Bell and VR fans could demo PlayStation VR, games, and food.
In 2016, Taco Bell built a restaurant out of five cargo shipping containers for the Texas music festival, South by Southwest. Due to popularity, the franchise decided to move the restaurant to a lot in South Gate, California, and it opened to the public a year later. The restaurant features Taco Bell's full menu, with outdoor seating, a walk-up window, and a drive-thru, but no indoor seating unlike regular Taco Bell locations. Taco Bell announced plans in November 2017 to open 300 more urban and Cantina-style locations by 2022, with 50 to be located about New York City's five boroughs. In 2019 Taco Bell opened a pop-up hotel called "The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort" which opened for one weekend in August. Upon the announcement the hotel was booked up in two minutes.
Taco Bell announced plans to stay in its current corporate headquarters until 2030.
The Taco Bell show
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