Taco Bell was founded by Glen Bell as a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In in San Bernardino, California in 1946. Glen Bell was 23 at the time. He watched the long lines of steady customers at the Mexican restaurant across the street and thought he might change from hot dogs and hamburgers to Mexican food.
Six years later, he sold the hot dog stand and started a new business selling tacos under the name Taco-Tia. Over the next few years, Bell owned and operated a number of restaurants, several of which sold tacos.
Bell built the first Taco Bell in 1962. He sold his first franchise, to former police officer Kermit Becky, in Torrance, California, in 1964.
The company grew explosively and opened its 100th restaurant in 1967.
In 1978 PepsiCo acquired Taco Bell with 868 restaurants. Glen Bell became a shareholder in PepsiCo.
Taco Bell is international, operating in Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, and the U.K. Taco Bell has not been successful in attempts to enter the Mexican market.
The parent company announced in November 2018 that sales at Taco Bell were “tremendous” during the last quarter with a net income of $454 million.
The company has nearly 8,000 locations and says that it plans to have a workforce of more than 100,000 persons by the end of 2022. Taco Bell partnered with ride-sharing company Lyft to offer drive-through service at Taco Bell. In January 2018, Yum! Brands purchased a 3% stake in GrubHub, the online delivery service, allowing the company to integrate with their websites.
Since the purchase of GrubHub, the company is testing a possible delivery service for both Taco Bell and KFC brands.
Taco Bell recalled over 2 million pounds of ground beef after customers found metal shavings in the meat. This occurred in early October 2019. The recall involved 4 states and while no one was injured, the company was quick to say that customers who feel they might have been affected should seek medical help.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic in the spring of 2020, Taco Bell was making the unprecedented move of closing their dining rooms and only selling food via the drive through or through their delivery service.
Yum Brands, who owns Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut stated on March 13th, 2020, that all employees who were forced to stay home due to restaurant closures and the coronavirus, would continue to receive their pay. This applies only at company owned locations, however, and while they urged franchise owners to do the same, it is unknown which, if any, would do so.