Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Fast food history from Southern California

I think it's common knowledge that McDonald's was started by the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, in San Bernardino, CA. They are often credited with bringing assembly-line mentality to a restaurant, and transforming their store to a drive-in to capitalize on the increasing number of teenages at San Bernardino High School that were driving.

About four blocks down the street, Glen Bell had a little hot dog stand called Bell's Drive-In. From this, and from the McDonald brothers, he learned a lot about quick service. Bell decided to take on the McDonald's brothers directly, selling Bell's Drive-In and opening a new store that sold both hot dogs and hamburgers, also in San Bernardino. The whole time, we has captivated by the local Mexican take-out food stores that were in the area. Figuring that tacos were something that the pulbic would buy if served quickly and Americanized, he founded a his first taco store -- Taco Tia. Business was good, but Bell started getting bored. Eventually, Bell would sell Taco Tia when his partners did not want to expand the chain. For what it's worth, Taco Tia is still in operation in San Bernardino, but not a major player in the market.

Glen went on to from his next taco venture -- El Tacos. John Gallardi was commissary manager for El Tacos. Inspired by Bell, and with assistence from Bell and his wife Martha, Gallardi started his own fast service store focusing on hot dogs. The store was called "Der Wienerschnitzel", and it was every bit as successful as El Tacos was at the time, perhaps even more. That company later dropped the "Der" from the name, and Wienerschnitzel today claims to be the world's largest hot dog chain.

Bell was running El Tacos with partners, and really wanted to have a store that was his and his alone. So he sold El Tacos to his partners, and started a new taco store in Downey in 1962. That taco store would be named for himself -- Taco Bell. Yes, *that* Taco Bell. As with Taco Tia and El Tacos, business was very good. Bell wanted to open a store in Bartow, but was very busy in the San Bernardino area. He worked with a young man by the name of Ed Hackbarth to run the Barstow Taco Bell. Ed eventually decided to take matters into his own hands and started his own store called Casa del Taco in 1964. This store later expanded locations and shortened it's name to Del Taco, which is the second largest Mexican/American chain in the US.

Following in the footsteps of Hackbarth and Bell before him, a Del Taco employee in Riverside left to open his own restaurant. Ed Naugle decided to name the place after himself, and Naugles was born in 1970. Naugles expanded to over 200 stores before it was acquired by Del Taco in 1988. Since Naugles was formed from the founder's knowledge of working at Del Taco, it was almost like a corporate family reunion.

According to Taco Bell's web site, Bell tendered his resignation as Chairman of the Board in 1975. In 1978, be sold Taco Bell's 868 units to PepsiCo. Through various spinoffs and renames, Taco Bell is now a brand owned by YUM! Brands, along with Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W All American Food, and Long John Silver's.

So to recap, McDonald's inspired Glen Bell to eventually create Taco Bell. Along the way, he inspired the founders of Wienerschnitzel and Del Taco. From Del Taco's inspiration, Naugles was formed, though it merged back with Del Taco in 1988. Pretty interesting, I think.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 21st, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
Fascinating, I love things like this. I believe Yum! brands at one time also owned Dennys, Winchells (which was also a local chain), and El Pollo Loco. I could be wrong there.
Sep. 21st, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC)
At the time that Denny's owned Winchells and El Pollo Loco, YUM! wasn't even around. Denny's owned the non-Mexico worldwide franchise rights to El Pollo Loco starting in 1983. In 1987, Denny's was purchased by TW Services, the former holding company of TWA. Winchell's was divested shortly afterwards in order to pay off some of the debt from this purchase. TW Services renamed itself in 1993 as Flagstar Corporation to reflect it's changed focus in the restaurant business (Denny's, EPL, Quincy's, Hardee's (major franchisee), and Canteen Food Service). Slowly, things shifted around. Denny's was hurting because of the discrimination lawsuit. Canteen was sold to Eurest in June 1994. The company was able to purchase Coco's and Carrows in May 1996, but could not bear the financial burder. Flagstar declared Chapter 11 in 1997, and emerged from Chapter 11 as Advanctia Restaurant Group in January 1998. The Hardee's stores were sold to CKE in February and soon afterwards sold Quincy's. 1999 brought the sale of El Pollo Loco. In the second quarter of 2000, the company sold Coco's and Carrows and renamed themselves to Denny's Corporation, since that was the only thing left.

But as far as I'm aware, YUM! Brands wasn't involved at all.

(Did I mention that I used to work for EPL from 1989-1994?)
Sep. 22nd, 2006 02:53 am (UTC)
wow, you worked there for that many years? i'm impressed!
and you still eat chicken these days? that didn't scare you off? heh
Sep. 22nd, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
Yep, I still eat their chicken. And hey, that paid my way through Cal Poly Pomona, so it was all good....
Jul. 18th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
I remember when Winchell's,Denny's and Pollo Loco were all headquartered together in La Mirada (1980's?).
Jul. 18th, 2007 02:14 am (UTC)
Re: together..
That would be about right. Denny's/EPL moved to Irvine in the early 90's before being picked up by TW Services and having the HQ moved to South Carolina.
Sep. 21st, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
Man, I miss Naugles! Second best damn hamburger ever (InO being best).

I'd heard some of that before, but not the Del Taco/Naugles pre-historical connection.
Sep. 21st, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
I loved Naugles taco salad. Hmm... The Del Taco one just doesn't compare.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )