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The Quest to Save the First Taco Bell


(Photo: Taco Bell)

Glenn Bell founded 7 different businesses before he finally hit upon the idea that would become a multibillion dollar company. In 1962, he built Taco Bell, a taco shop in Downey, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. It was a simple building. Joe Satran of the Huffington Post describes it:

The wood, stucco and brick Mission-style building measured just 20 feet by 20 feet. There was no indoor seating -- just a small kitchen, an ordering window and a few tables and chairs on the patio. A clay-tile roof, arch-shaped entryways and a large metal bell set in a cavity above the entrance lent it an air of festivity -- but no embellishment could conceal its essentially modest nature.

That restaurant did well, so Glenn Bell began franchising it. By 1967, there were 100 Taco Bells in the Los Angeles area. Bell sold the chain to PepsiCo in 1978. With access to that company's vast capital, Taco Bell exploded across the country.

In the mid 1980s, Taco Bell shut down its original location in Downey. The building housed several other businesses over the subsequent years. In December 2014, the last of them vacated and moved elsewhere. The Downey Conservancy, a local preservation organization, wants to save the first Taco Bell building. It attracted the attention of the Taco Bell corporation, which wants to help. Satran writes:

Katie Rispoli, a member of the Downey Conservancy who also runs a nonprofit that specializes in moving historic buildings, said she is confident that the building can be moved.

"My perspective is that there's no major structural obstacle here," she said. "I'm close to 100 percent certain it can be done. It's a matter of time, money and continuing to cooperate with the property owners, who have been very helpful so far."

Rispoli has already started researching the history of the building, and plans to start conducting the feasibility study itself in a matter of weeks. She hopes to be able to move the building to another plot of land this summer. She estimates that the total cost of moving and restoring the building would be about $400,000, not including the cost of purchasing land to serve as its new home, which has not yet been decided.

-via American Digest


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