Taco Bell is known for its irreverent attitude and creative approach to connecting with its customers. That distinct personality goes all the way back to the brand’s early days, when founder Glen Bell, who opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, Calif., in 1962, was inherently writing a new blueprint for QSR success as a taco concept in a burger and pizza world.
Since those days, Taco Bell has seemingly played by a different set of rules than most other restaurant companies, taking big swing after big swing not only with its marketing but also with its menu and its operations. Through multiple generations of leaders, the Mexican juggernaut has protected its spirit of irreverence and originality and packaged all of it as authentically Taco Bell.
Taco Bell’s legacy of disruption has firmly solidified its place among the global zeitgeist, its offbeat attitude generating countless headlines and memes — and, more importantly, traffic at its restaurants. Today, Taco Bell is the fourth-largest restaurant brand in the U.S., with roughly $13 billion in sales in 2022 at north of 7,000 locations, according to NRN’s most recent Top 500 report.
How did it get here? Here’s a look at important milestones in Taco Bell’s “restlessly creative” history.