Taco Bell

Taco Bell
Taco Bell
Type Wholly owned subsidiary
Industry Fast Food
Founded Downey, California
(March 21, 1962)
Headquarters Irvine, California, U.S.
Number of locations 6,446 restaurants (2009)[1]
Key people Glen Bell, Founder
Greg Creed, President, CEO
Products Tacos, burritos, and other Tex-Mex cuisine-related fast food
Revenue increase$1.9 billion (2009)[1]
Employees 175,000+
Parent Yum! Brands
Website tacobell.com
The classic Taco Bell logo used from 1985 to 1994. It is still in use at many older Taco Bell locations.
Taco Bell's original restaurant design with its first logo sign in Wausau, Wisconsin. Demolished May 5, 2010.
A Taco Bell restaurant design that was popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
Taco Bell's current restaurant design.

Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants based in Irvine, California. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., which serves American-adapted Mexican food. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, other specialty items, and a variety of "Value Menu" items. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion consumers each year in more than 5,800 restaurants in the U.S., more than 80 percent of which are owned and operated by independent franchisees.


Founding and growth

Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell who first opened a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In in San Bernardino, California in 1946 when he was 23 years old. Six years later, he sold the stand and opened a new one two years later, this time selling tacos under the name of Taco-Tia. Over the next few years Bell owned and operated a number of restaurants in southern California including four called El Taco. Bell sold the El Tacos to his partner and built the first Taco Bell in Downey in 1962. In 1962, he sold Taco-Tia.[2] Kermit Becky, a former Los Angeles police officer, bought the first Taco Bell franchise from Glen Bell in 1964 (with a little encouragement from another L.A. police officer Joseph Charles Zeller), and located it in Torrance. The company grew rapidly, and by 1967, the 100th restaurant opened at 400 South Brookhurst in Anaheim. In 1970, Taco Bell went public with 325 restaurants. In 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell from Glen Bell.[3]

Taco Bell Express

In 1991, Taco Bell opened the first Taco Bell Express in San Francisco. This concept is a reduced-size restaurant with a limited menu (primarily items priced under $1), meant to emphasize volume.[4] Taco Bell Express locations operate primarily inside convenience stores, truck stops, shopping malls, and airports.

Dispute with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

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 of the coalition's demands to improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in its supply chain.[5]

After four years of a tenacious and growing boycott, Taco Bell and Yum! Brands agreed to make an agreement called the CIW-Yum agreement with representatives of CIW at Yum! Brands headquarters.[6] The CIW-Yum agreement set several precedents, establishing:

  • The first direct, ongoing payment by a fast-food industry leader to farm workers in its supply chain to address substandard farm-labor wages (nearly doubling the percentage of the final retail price that goes to the workers who pick the produce).
  • The first enforceable Code of Conduct for agricultural suppliers in the fast-food industry (which includes the CIW, a worker-based organization, as part of the investigative body for monitoring worker complaints).
  • Market incentives for agricultural suppliers willing to respect their workers’ human rights, even when those rights are not guaranteed by law;
  • Full transparency for Taco Bell’s tomato purchases in Florida; the agreement commits Taco Bell to buy only from Florida growers who agree to the pass-through and to document and monitor the pass-through, providing complete records of Taco Bell’s Florida tomato purchases and growers’ wage records to the CIW.[7]


Two basic "crunchy" corn shell beef Taco Bell tacos

Border Bell

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).[8] In addition to a subset of the regular Taco Bell menu, Border Bell offered Mexican-inspired items like those available from Chevys Fresh Mex restaurants (then owned by PepsiCo), such as Chevys signature sweet corn tamalito pudding and a fresh salsa bar.

Reduction of trans fats

As of April 2007, Taco Bell had switched to zero trans fat frying oil in all of its US single-branded locations.[9]

Volcano Taco and Volcano Double Beef Burrito

Taco Bell revealed in June 2009 that it will be adding to its main menu the Volcano Double Beef Burrito and the Volcano Taco, a former limited-time item.[10]

Cupcakes and smoothies

It was reported in October 2009 that the chain has been testing smoothies, mini-snacks, and other items. A juice bar has been installed in some restaurants along with a display containing cupcakes and other snacks.[11]


Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, California

In March 2001, Taco Bell announced a promotion to coincide with the re-entry of the Mir space station. They towed a large target out into the Pacific Ocean, announcing that if the target was hit by a falling piece of Mir, every person in the United States would be entitled to a free Taco Bell taco. The company bought a sizable insurance policy for this gamble.[12] No piece of the station struck the target.

In 2004, a local Taco Bell franchisee bought the naming rights to the Boise State Pavilion in Boise, Idaho and renamed the stadium Taco Bell Arena.[13]

In 2007, Taco Bell offered the "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" promotion—if any player from either team stole a base in the 2007 World Series the company would give away free tacos to everyone in the United States in a campaign similar to the Mir promotion, albeit with a much higher likelihood of being realized.[14] After Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox stole a base in Game 2, the company paid out this promotion on October 30, 2007. This promotion was used again in the 2008 World Series, when Jason Bartlett of the Tampa Bay Rays stole a base during Game 1 at Tropicana Field, which was paid out on October 28, 2008.[15]

Taco Bell sponsors a promotion at home games for both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Cleveland Cavaliers in which everyone in attendance receives a coupon for a free Chalupa if the home team scores 100 points or more.[16][17]

In 2009, Taco Bell introduced a music video style commercial entitled, "It's all about the Roosevelts" composed and produced by Danny de Matos at his studio for Amber Music on behalf of DraftFCB Agency. Featuring Varsity Fanclub's Bobby Edner, the rap music style commercial shows a group of friends gathering change as they drive toward Taco Bell. The commercial represents Taco Bell's first foray into movie theater advertising, featuring the ad during the opening previews of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Public Enemies as well as screens in some movie theater lobbies.[18]

On July 1, 2009, Taco Bell has replaced 20-year sponsor McDonald's as the fast food partner of the NBA. Taco Bell and the NBA agreed on a 4 year deal allowing them to advertise on ABC, TNT and ESPN, and NBA-themed promotions. [19]

Infomercial salesman Billy Mays signed a deal in June 2009 to shoot infomercial-style commercials for the chain, with filming to begin in August.[20] His unexpected death from a heart attack on June 28, 2009 canceled those plans.

On July 21, 2009, Gidget, the Chihuahua featured in Taco Bell ads in the late 1990s, was euthanized after suffering a stroke.[21] She was 15 years old.

2009 commercials for the "Frutista Freeze" frozen drink feature Snowball, an Eleonora Cockatoo noted for his ability to dance to human music.[22]

In an effort to promote their $2 Meal Deals, Taco Bell started a Facebook group in June 2010 to collect signatures on a petition that appeals to the Federal Reserve to produce more two-dollar bills.[23]

A large advertising push by Taco Bell was begun in late February 2011 in response to a consumer protection lawsuit filed against the company by an Alabama law firm. The promotion sought to counter allegations that the company falsely advertised the ratio of ingredients of its beef filling for its tacos. The spots featured employees and franchisees stating that the filling has always been a mixture of 88% beef and various spices and binders and nothing else. The ad followed several full page print ads in the New York Times and other newspapers that featured the headline "Thank you for suing us."[24] Additionally, the chain added a new social campaign using Twitter and Facebook. The company invested heavily in the campaign, spending more than $3 million (USD) putting out its message - about 20 percent more than the company usually spends on an advertising program. The various campaigns came shortly before the company began its official response to the suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California and were designed to bring public opinion into their camp. Various analysts stated that the company would have been better off using a grass-root campaign that involved in store advertising and other non-broadcast media.[25] The suit was eventually withdrawn,[26] and the company continued its advertising response by publicly requesting an apology from the suing firm of Beasly Allen. Analyst Laura Ries, of marketing strategy firm Ries & Ries, stated she believed Taco Bell's latest response was a mistake. She went on to comment that reviving memories of a suit that the majority of the public had forgotten after the initial burst of publicity, commenting "when you run these ads defending, defending, defending, sometimes people think, 'Well, wait a minute, why are they trying so hard to defend themselves?'".[26]

Outside the United States


Taco Bell first opened in Australia in September 1981, but Taco Bell was ordered to change its name after the owner of a local restaurant successfully sued Taco Bell for misleading conduct.[27] The local restaurant was called "Taco Bell's Casa" and had been operating in Australia since the 1970s. The owner successfully argued that Sydneysiders would confuse the takeaway chain with his restaurant, and this would damage his reputation. Taco Bell later opened in 1997 in Australia with a store in the cinema district on George St in Sydney and a year later in 1998 within a few KFC stores in the state of New South Wales, but by 2005, the Taco Bell brand was pulled out of the country.


Taco Bell has been present in Canada since 1981, with the first store opening in Windsor, Ontario.


Taco Bell Grande's Logo

In 2003, Yum! Brands introduced the Taco Bell brand into People's Republic of China. The Chinese Taco Bell restaurants were not fast-food restaurants like other Taco Bells. Instead, they were full-service restaurants called Taco Bell Grande that are more analogous to a Mexican grill in the United States. In addition to the usual taco and burritos, Taco Bell Grande also served other Mexican cuisine like albóndigas (meatball soup), tomatillo grilled chicken, fajitas, and alcoholic drinks such as Margaritas. The chain had operated three restaurants in China, two in Shenzhen and one in Shanghai. However, the Shanghai location closed at the end of January 2008.[28] One location in Shenzhen closed on February 20, 2008; the second location followed shortly after, closing on March 5, 2008.[29]


Taco Bell in Cyprus

A Taco Bell opened in Cyprus in December 2009 in Limassol at the MyMall. Further restaurants are planned to be opened within the next 18 months (probably also in Cyprus' capital Nicosia).[30]


Greece's first Taco Bell opened in Athens upon the grand opening of the newly constructed Athens Metro Mall on November 30, 2010.[31][32]


Taco Bell in Iceland is operated as a part of the KFC establishment in Hafnarfjörður, suburb of Reykjavík. It was established in late 2006, after the departure of the U.S. Navy from Naval Air Station Keflavik. A second location opened in the Ártúnshöfði part of Reykjavik in November 2008.[33] The Ártúnshöfði location is now closed, and replaced by a new location in the nearby area of Grafarholti (together with KFC). (update 07/2011)


India's first Taco Bell outlet opened at the Mantri square mall, Bangalore.[34] Another outlet at the Gopalan Mall, Bangalore opened in February, 2011.


Taco Bell has attempted to enter the Mexican market twice. After a highly-publicised launch in Mexico City in 1992, all the restaurants were closed two years later. In September 2007, Taco Bell returned to Monterrey, this time promoting itself as selling American food, but closed in January 2010 due to low patronage.[35][36][37]


Taco Bell opened its first Philippine branch on October 30, 2004 at the Gateway Mall in Cubao, Quezon City. They now have one on the Ground Floor and one on the 4th floor in the food court at the Gateway Mall. They have also added another branch at the TriNoma mall in Quezon City.On November 2010 Taco bell will open it's 4th branch at SM Seaside City Cebu at Cebu City on 2013.[38]


The first Polish Taco Bell store was opened in 1993. Following an aggressive campaign of expansion, Taco Bell's efforts soon withered, and the chain withdrew from Poland shortly thereafter.


Taco Bell in Singapore existed for a number of years, mostly as combination stores with KFC such as the one that operated at the Funan Digital Life Mall, but in 2008, Taco Bell completely pulled out of Singapore.[39]


The first Taco Bell in Spain was opened at Naval Station Rota in 2004 and is available only to those authorized to access the naval base.[40] The first Taco Bell for the general public was opened in the Islazul Shopping Mall, Madrid, in December 2008.[41] Yum! Brands announced that it would open additional restaurants in Spain in early 2009 as part of a test trial for the European market.[42][43] A second location has now opened at the La Vaguada Shopping Mall, Madrid (03/2010). Another location recently opened at the Plaza Mayor shopping mall in Malaga, Spain.

South Korea

There are currently two locations in Seoul, in the Itaewon and Hongdae districts, which attract the most foreigners and college students. The two branches opened in the summer of 2010, Itaewon's branch coming first. A Taco Bell had long been a presence at the U.S. Army's Yongsan Garrison, which is off-limits to non-military people, and for a time there was a tongue-in-cheek grassroots campaign by non-Korean, non-military foreigners in Seoul to get another Taco Bell location.[44]

United Arab Emirates

A Taco Bell opened in the United Arab Emirates in November 2008 in Dubai at the Dubai Mall.[45]

Two more locations were opened at Mirdiff City Center and Deira City Center in 2010.[citation needed]

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom was the first European country with a Taco Bell, although it remains extremely difficult for UK inhabitants to patronise a store. In 1986, a location was opened in London on Coventry Street (between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus) followed by a second location in Earls Court near the Earl's Court tube station. One other store opened in Uxbridge but all closed in the mid 1990s.[46] In 1994, the university food provider Compass announced plans to open stores in its university and college sites. However, only one store was opened in Birmingham University, no other stores were opened, and the Birmingham site is now closed.[47][48] There are 2 Taco Bell sites in the UK in operation at the Strategic Air Command and United States Air Force bases at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, but, commensurate with existing security controls, access is restricted to relevant service personnel.[49]

Yum! Brands announced that it is considering reopening Taco Bell locations in the United Kingdom as part of a large planned expansion into Europe, with trial outlets opening first in Spain in early 2009. Yum! is taking advantage of the recent recession which led to increasing sales at other fast food outlets; it also said that there is now a greater awareness of Mexican food in the UK and that it can be successful with improved menu offerings and marketing.[42][43] The first new store opened at the Lakeside Shopping Centre on June 28, 2010.[50] Taco Bell opened a second store in Basildon on November 29, 2010 and the third in the Manchester Arndale on November 7, 2011.

Other countries

Taco Bell is also present in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guam, Aruba, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and on AAFES military bases in Japan, Germany and Iraq.

French fries

Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, India, and Spain are the only countries where Taco Bell offers French fries, which appears in two varieties: Fiesta Fries (Topped Fries in Spain) (like Nachos Supreme, changing nachos for fries), and regular French fries. Chili cheese fries (fries topped with beef chili, cheese, and chives) are also available in Canada. The UK branches offer Mexican (seasoned) fries.

See also

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