IRVINE, Calif. - November 18, 2015 - (BUSINESS WIRE) - Taco Bell® today announced plans to raise and rehabilitate the world’s first Taco Bell restaurant from its 53-year-old foundation in Downey, CA and relocate it to the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine, CA -- saving it from impending demolition. On Thursday, November 19, the restaurant, referred to lovingly as “Numero Uno,” will bid farewell to the community of Downey and make the 45-mile journey through the streets of Southern California. The structure will remain on property as the company plans for the building's restoration and future use.
"Numero Uno" has held its place in Downey since 1962 when fast food entrepreneur Glen Bell established the site as a Mexican-inspired center with shops, live music and fire pits – anchored by a taco stand called Taco Bell. The 400 square foot walk-up window helped Bell revolutionize the quick-service industry by bringing Mexican-inspired food to the masses. It closed as a Taco Bell in 1986 due to the popularity of larger restaurants with indoor seating and drive-thrus, which this original location lacked. Since then, however, it operated as other taqueria restaurants until it was permanently vacated in December of 2014. With the large plot now vacant, plans for new development caused the building to face demolition.
“This is arguably the most important restaurant in our company’s history,” stated Brian Niccol, Chief Executive Officer, Taco Bell Corp. “To think a business like ours, that spans 6,000 restaurants around the globe, started with a walk-up window no bigger than a two-car garage is truly inspirational. When we heard about the chance of it being demolished, we had to step in. We owe that to our fans, we owe that to Glen Bell.”
After learning of the proposed demolition in January from the Downey Conservancy, Taco Bell took to social media to raise awareness, encouraging fans to tweet #SaveTacoBell to help spread the word. Taco Bell began working closely with heritage conservation non-profit We Are The Next for preservation research and management of the building’s relocation.
“This building isn't designed by a famous architect, and it's not particularly beautiful in the conventional sense. But it does demonstrate how even the most ordinary buildings can tell tremendous stories,” stated Katie Rispoli, Executive Director, We Are The Next. “By saving and conserving structures like the first Taco Bell in Downey, we hope to set a precedent and demonstrate the great power that can come from unexpected histories in seemingly-ordinary places.”
The move, which begins at 10:30 p.m., Thursday, November 19 will mobilize the entire 20X20 foot structure, driving through Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, La Palma, Buena Park, Anaheim, Tustin and Orange, with an anticipated arrival at the Taco Bell headquarters in Irvine early Friday morning. The building will remain at Taco Bell headquarters for storage until its future use is determined. Taco Bell plans to make that decision in the near future, and involve their fans and community in the process.
“Our fans helped make us who we are, and we feel they should be involved in the future of the building where it all started,” said Marisa Thalberg, Chief Brand Engagement Officer, Taco Bell Corp. “This isn’t a decision that should be made in a boardroom, but a social experience that can allow our biggest fans to truly be a part of Taco Bell history.” Fans are encouraged to follow Taco Bell’s social media channels and #SaveTacoBell to follow "Numero Uno" on Thursday’s move.
Watch points are encouraged at the Taco Bell locations along the route:
Taco Bell Corp., a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation's leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant. Taco Bell serves made to order and customizable tacos, burritos, and specialties such as the exclusive Doritos® Locos Tacos, gourmet-inspired Cantina Power® Menu, lower calorie Fresco options and is the first QSR restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA)-certified menu items. Taco Bell Breakfast offers portable, classic items such as the A.M. Crunchwrap®, Waffle Taco and signature burritos. The company encourages customers to “Live Más,” both through its food and in ways such as its Feed The Beat® music program and its nonprofit organization, the Taco Bell® Foundation™. Taco Bell and its more than 350 franchise organizations have more than 6,000 restaurants across the United States that proudly serve more than 42 million customers every week.
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SOURCE Taco Bell
Taco Bell Corp.