Taco Bell founder Glen Bell dies

Taco Bell founder Glen Bell dies

RANCHO SANTA FE Calif. Glen W. Bell Jr., founder of Taco Bell, the world’s largest fast-food Mexican chain, passed away at his home Sunday after a long illness. He was 86.

 

Bell first began selling tacos in 1951, when he wanted to expand the menus at his Bell’s Drive-In hamburger stands. Those first tacos, made with ground beef, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and chili sauce and served in crispy shells, would ultimately become his signature product years later at Taco Bell, which now boasts 5,600 U.S. locations.

 

 

 

“The entire Taco Bell family of franchisees and employees are deeply saddened by the loss of the founder of Taco Bell,” said Greg Creed, president and chief concept officer of Taco Bell, now a division of Yum! Brands Inc. “Glen Bell was a visionary and innovator in the restaurant industry, as well as a dedicated family man. His innovative business acumen started out of humble beginnings and created one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains in Taco Bell.”

 

 

 

Throughout the 1950s, Bell worked with various business partners to open two Mexican concepts, Taco Tia and El Taco, before venturing out on his own. He also worked with an employee, John Galardi, to open a hotdog concept in 1961 called Der Wienerschnitzel, which Galardi eventually turned into the now well known, 400-unit chain. Bell opened the first Taco Bell in 1962 in Downey, Calif., with a simple menu of tacos, tostadas, burritos, beans and chiliburgers.

 

 

 

“I always smile when I hear people say that they never had a taco until Taco Bell came to town,” Bell told Nation’s Restaurant News in 2008, the year he was honored with NRN’s Pioneer Award. “We changed the eating habits of the entire country.”

 

 

 

Bell sold his first Taco Bell franchise in 1964, and then in 1978 he sold the then 868-unit chain to PepsiCo in a $130 million deal.

 

 

 

In 1997, Pepsi spun off its restaurant brands, which also included Pizza Hut and KFC, forming a company that would ultimately become Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc.

 

 

 

Private funeral services are being planned for family. Bell is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marty; three sisters, a daughter; three sons; and four grandchildren.

 

 

 

Private funeral services are being planned for family. Bell is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marty; three sisters, a daughter; three sons; and four grandchildren.

 

 

 

Contact Molly Gise at [email protected] [3].