Taco Bell is an American chain of fast-food restaurants based in Irvine, California. A subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., they serve a variety of Tex-Mex foods including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, other specialty items, and a variety of “value menu” items. Taco Bell serves more than 2 billion customers each year in more than 6,500 restaurants mostly in the U.S., more than 80 percent of which are owned and operated by independent franchisees.
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. 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 Street, 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. For some time it was possible to order draft beer with one’s order. Taco Bell offers free soda refills in its stores.
On March 31, 2011 Priszm, owner of Taco Bell (Canada), went into bankruptcy protection in Ontario and British Columbia. On May 6, 2011, Priszm Income Fund was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange for failure to meet the continued listing requirements. Since then some Taco Bell restaurants have been closed down including those in Guelph, Hamilton, and Cambridge, Ontario among others.
There are currently Taco Bell locations in 7 of the 10 Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Taco Bell have fourteen stores in Chile, thirteen of which are operated in conjunction (and in the same facilities) with Pizza Hut. All Taco Bell stores are in shopping malls located mainly in Santiago.
A Taco Bell opened in Cyprus in December 2009 in Limassol at the MY MALL Limassol. Further restaurants are planned to be opened within the next 18 months (probably also in Cyprus’ capital Nicosia).
Greece’s first Taco Bell opened in Athens upon the grand opening of the newly constructed Athens Metro Mall on November 30, 2010. The restaurant closed in August 2012 and the chain withdrew from the Greek market.
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. The Ártúnshöfði location is now closed, and replaced by a new location in the nearby area of Grafarholt (together with KFC).
India’s first Taco Bell outlet opened at the Mantri Square mall, Bangalore. Another outlet at the Gopalan Mall, Bangalore opened in February 2011.
Taco Bell once opened shops at Tokyo and Nagoya in the 1980s, but withdrew in several years and there are shops only in United States Forces Japan bases. But in 2015, Taco Bell decided to challenge again and opened new shop at downtown area of Shibuya, Tokyo. It has “Taco rice” and “Shrimp and avocado burrito” as its original menu.
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, projecting an American image with an Americanized menu that included french fries, but it closed in January 2010 due to low patronage.
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 fourth floor in the food court at the Gateway Mall. They have also added another branch at the TriNoma mall in Quezon City.
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.
In the early 1990s, Pepsico opened several Taco Bell locations inside the Moscow metro system, including Metro Park Kulturi and Metro Komsomolskaya. This experiment lasted only a few years but these locations live on under different ownership and a different name. Notably, they still sell burritos, although they bear little resemblance to Taco Bell burritos.
Taco Bell has two restaurants in Riyadh and one in Khobar.
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.
Spain is the most important market for Taco Bell inside Europe. There are 21 Taco Bell branches in Spain. 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. The first Taco Bell for the public was opened in the Islazul Shopping Mall, Madrid, in December 2008. Yum! Brands announced that it would open additional restaurants in Spain in early 2009 as part of a test trial for the European market. The second location of Taco Bell in Spain was opened at the La Vaguada Shopping Mall, Madrid (03/2010). Taco Bell announced, at least, 10 new restaurants through Spain.
There are 21 Taco Bell restaurants in Spain; 10 of them are in Madrid, and the other 11 Taco Bell are distributed through Valencia (3), Málaga (3), Barcelona (2), and Alicante, Zaragoza, Jerez de la Frontera with 1 restaurant.
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.
United Arab Emirates
A Taco Bell opened in the United Arab Emirates in November 2008 in Dubai at the Dubai Mall.
Two more locations were opened at Mirdif City Centre and Deira City Centre in 2010. A fourth UAE location was also planned for Bawadi Mall in the city of Al Ain.
As of February 2012, the locations at Dubai Mall, Deira City Centre, and Mirdif City Centre have all closed and Taco Bell has completely pulled out of the UAE market.
The United Kingdom was the first European country with a Taco Bell. 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. 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. 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; commensurate with existing security controls, access is restricted to relevant service personnel.
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. The first new store opened at the Lakeside Shopping Centre on June 28, 2010. Taco Bell opened a second store in Basildon on November 29, 2010 and the third in the Manchester Arndale Food Court on November 7, 2011.
On March 1, 2013, it was announced that horse meat had been found in Taco Bell’s beef in the UK, hampering the chain’s growth in that already-stubborn market.
On September 25, 2014 Taco Bell opened its fourth UK store in Sheffield.
Taco Bell is present in the Dominican Republic, Guam, Aruba, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and on AAFES military bases in Germany, Iraq, Guatemala, and El Salvador.