In 1948, practically 15 years before he founded Taco Bell, valley Bell opened up a warm dog stand called Bell"s Drive-In in mountain Bernardino, California. It was Bell"s first venture into the rapid food industry, and it no a stop hit. Locals were far an ext interested in the mexico restaurant throughout the street.

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After city hall customers line up to try the competing establishment’s signature hard-shell tacos—and convincing the owners to show him just how to make them—Bell switched his focus to mexican food and also launched what would eventually end up being the world’s many successful taco chain.

Visit a Taco Bell today and also you’ll watch plenty of indications of Mexico’s influence, from the clay-tiled roofs and also arched doorways come the Spanish indigenous peppered transparent the menu. With much more than 7000 locations across 30 countries—including Finland, Romania, Canada, and Japan—Taco Bell is some patrons" sole allude of referral for mexican cuisine.

The one notable place where Taco Bell has actually failed to capture on is in Mexico, a nation with much more than 350 KFCs and also 400 McDonald"s, which is located simply 130 miles far from wherein Taco Bell was founded. This may not it is in a surprise to anyone that has ever before dined in Mexico, where tacos room cheap, quickly accessible, and aren’t commonly made through mysterious ingredients. Yet these truth didn’t prevent Taco Bell native trying to establish locations in Mexico no once, but twice—and failing miserably every time.

Starting Small

For its first effort to infiltrate the taco’s home territory, Taco Bell started small. Rather of opened a Spanish colonial-style brick-and-mortar store, the agency launched a usual food cart in Mexico City in 1992. The 9-foot-long, boil buffet table was developed inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken, together both chains were owned by PepsiCo at the time. Items americans would have been acquainted with were sold there, prefer nachos and burritos, yet the Mexican menu was also different in a few major ways.


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Lenin and McCarthy, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Taco Bell’s classic hard-shell tacos were nowhere to it is in seen; in their location were tacos bundled in soft corn or flour tortillas, much like those you"d find sold top top the roadways of Mexico City. Instead of a concoction of ground beef and taco seasoning, tortillas were either filled through shredded beef, pork, or chicken. The meats to be imported frozen indigenous the U.S., yet the sauces and also condiments were sourced locally in Mexico.

The effort at authenticity didn"t land through everyone. Georgina Gil, one of the stand"s employees, called the Cox News company shortly after ~ Taco Bell opened, "Some <...> room a tiny offended. They acquire a major look on your face and say things like "How have the right to Americans imagine they can concerned sell tacos in the home of the taco?""

Even if the quality was up to par, Taco Bell couldn’t complete with the prices of Mexico’s taqueros. An stimulate of tacos and a little drink cost around 9500 pesos, or $3.25—definitely cheap, however still pricier 보다 what to be being marketed from street carts at the time.

The food cart wasn’t the just Mexican location Taco Bell experimented through in the 1990s. The chain opened up a grasp of outposts next to KFCs in Mexico, but just two years after launching their standalone eateries, Taco Bell shuttered every one of its mexican shops in light of disappointed sales and a struggling economy.

Taco Takeover: take Two

Even ~ this fail experiment, the fast food huge still had its sights collection south of the border. Transparent the 1990s and also 2000s, Taco Bell grew from a largely domestic chain come a global brand. Through 2007, the agency was operation 230 stores external of the U.S., and that year—emboldened through its worldwide success—the firm decided to take a second crack at the mexico market.


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Willis Lam via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

This time would certainly be much various from the very first attempt. Taco Bell executives now realized that their product couldn’t compete with regional businesses ~ above the authenticity front, so instead of ignoring the chain"s American roots, the brand-new restaurants would certainly lean into it. Customers that walked right into the brand-new location in a shopping center parking lot outside Monterrey, Mexico, wouldn’t find pulled beef in soft tortillas on the menu; they might now bespeak hard-shell tacos that were identical to the ones sold in the U.S. Now, though, lock were dubbed tacostadas, to do it clean they came on a crispy, tostada-like tortilla, uneven what mexicans were offered to with timeless tacos.

In addition to bringing over standards from the initial menu, Taco Bell Mexico added a couple of new item to make the restaurant feeling even more American. Years prior to the chain’s nacho fries debuted in the U.S., the Monterrey Taco Bell marketed French fries topped v ground meat, cheese, cream, and tomatoes. Soft-serve ice cream cream was additionally available.

Fresh Approach, cake Response

While stateside Taco Bells readily available a fast-food interpretation of mexican dishes the catered come American palates, Mexico"s Taco Bell aimed to do the reverse. A half-page newspaper ad promoting the new store read: "One watch alone is enough to tell that Taco Bell is not a "taqueria." that is a brand-new fast-food alternative that does not pretend to be mexico food."


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Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Despite the new approach, this unapologetic version of Taco Bell was simply as much of a dud as the 1992 food stand. After ~ sampling the fare, The Chicago Tribunes Latin America correspondent, Oscar Avila, wrote: “To scarf down a Fiesta burato in Mexico felt prefer patronizing a Panda Express in ~ the foot the the an excellent Wall. Girlfriend wouldn"t think of chugging herbal Light in ~ Oktoberfest in Munich. Or sneaking the end of the Cannes film Festival to catch Transformers.”

Taco Bell initially had actually plans to roll out 300 locations across Mexico, yet the chain never expanded past Monterrey. The brand-new location outlived the Mexico City stand, though no by really long: Taco Bell officially asserted the keep a failure 3 years after that opened and vacated Mexico a 2nd time in 2010.

Numerous rejections from the only nation whose opinions on tacos issue didn’t do lot to pains the Taco Bell brand, though. The agency has been rapid to it is adapted to the social media landscape and also to tap right into the Millennial base—two things that plenty of other fast-food franchises have struggled with. End the past five years, its device sales have grown by 33 percent, and the following step for the brand is aggressive expansion on an global scale.

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In might 2019, the announced to plan to open 600 brand-new locations in India alone and also enter industries in Portugal and Indonesia for the first time. However Taco Bell has plainly learned that is limits: Mexico is stated nowhere in the growth strategy.