Glen W. Bell Jr., whose idea in 1951 to sell crispy-shell tacos from the window of his hamburger stand became the foundation of Taco Bell, the restaurant chain that turned Mexican fare into fast food for millions of Americans, died at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He was 86.
Mr. Bell never forgot the first taco buyer at Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in San Bernardino, Calif., one of three stands he owned at the time.
“He was dressed in a suit and as he bit into the taco the juice ran down his sleeve and dripped on his tie,” Mr. Bell recalled in “Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story,” (Bookworld Services, 1999), a biography by Debra Lee Baldwin. “I thought, ‘Uh-oh, we’ve lost this one.’ But he came back, amazingly enough, and said, ‘That was good. Gimme another.’ ”
Mr. Bell, a fan of Mexican food, had a hunch that ground beef, chopped lettuce, shredded cheese and chili sauce served in the right wrap could give burgers a run for the money. The problem was which wrap. Tacos served in Mexican restaurants at the time were made with soft tortillas.
“If you wanted a dozen, you were in for a wait,” Mr. Bell said. “They stuffed them first, quickly fried them and stuck them together with a toothpick.”
The solution: preformed fried shells that would then be stuffed. Mr. Bell asked a man who made chicken coops to fashion a frying contraption made of wire.
Tacos became a hit at Bell’s, selling for 19 cents each. They were such a hit that by 1954 Mr. Bell and a partner opened Taco Tia, his first restaurant selling only Mexican-style food.
Two years and three Taco Tias later, Mr. Bell sold his interest after his business partner resisted expanding any further. Mr. Bell then opened another fast-food Mexican restaurant in Pasadena, in 1957, and a year later took on three partners in a chain called El Taco.
After four El Tacos, Mr. Bell decided he no longer wanted to answer to any partners. He sold out again. Then, in 1962, with a $4,000 investment, he opened the first Taco Bell, in Downey, Calif. Over the next two years, he started eight more Taco Bells, each with a grand opening featuring live salsa music, searchlights and free sombreros. The first of its franchises opened in Torrance, Calif., in 1965.
The trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News has credited Mr. Bell with introducing millions of Americans to Mexican-style food. “I always smile,” Mr. Bell told the magazine in 2008, “when I hear people say that they never had a taco until Taco Bell came to town.”
Glen W. Bell Jr. was born on September 3rd, 1923 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_Bell
September 3rd, 1923
9 + 3 +1+9+2+3 = 27 = his life lesson = what he was here to learn = Initiative. Follow through. Innovation. Trailblazer. Pioneer. Inventor. Start. Begin. Initiate. Groundbreaking. New start. Fresh start. First step. The beginning. Opening scene. Opening line. Reset. Restart. Take the initiative. Taking the first step. Get started. Getting started. Start it up. Turning over a new leaf. No harm in trying. Do what you will, but be the first.