Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

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Andrew T.
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Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Andrew T. » 30 Apr 2018 13:51

The Taco Bell chain has been on a remodeling and rebuilding tear for the last decade and a half, and I’m really starting to wonder if there are any traces of their pre-1990s existence left in the United States.

The mission-style restaurants of the 1960s to mid-1980s seem practically extinct now except as repurposings and abandonments. In 2010, I checked and found that there were only three or four of these left in operation in Wisconsin, where I lived at the time. I frantically photographed whatever I could, and I’m glad that I did because all of them have been closed or demolished by now.

Also near extinction is the brown signage from the 1980s and early 1990s. A large number of buildings from this era survive, but every one that I’ve seen in the last four years had been updated to newer signage...again, at least in the US. Are there any survivors?

The one mission-style Taco Bell I know of that’s left in operation (and one of two that I know of with brown signage) isn’t in the United States at all: It’s in London, Ontario. Taco Bell’s Canadian operations are somewhat different from those in the States, with more of a focus on combination meals and unique menu items like French fries. I can only guess that they’re also less focused than their stateside counterpart on making all restaurants look alike, and I’m grateful for that!
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Super S
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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Super S » 09 May 2018 00:24

I THINK there may be one left in operation in the Pacific Northwest, either in the Portland area or the Seattle-Tacoma area. I can't recall exactly where but I seem to remember one still open as a Taco Bell within the past year.

I do know of one that still has the brown sign...kind of. The Kelso, WA Taco Bell had the brown signage until about 1-2 years ago. The tall freeway sign, which had the logo on both sides, had something inside the sign to keep one side dark, as one side is really close to a hillside with homes, but the other side has good visibility from Interstate 5. Anyway, when they installed the new sign on the "freeway" side, they left the old sign in place on the other side but simply painted it black. I think somebody complained about seeing the sign out of their window.

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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Groceteria » 09 May 2018 14:37

Apparetntly there are still a few. Thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/tacobell/comme ... h=e28bf4f2

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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Andrew T. » 09 May 2018 19:28

Super S wrote:I do know of one that still has the brown sign...kind of. The Kelso, WA Taco Bell had the brown signage until about 1-2 years ago. The tall freeway sign, which had the logo on both sides, had something inside the sign to keep one side dark, as one side is really close to a hillside with homes, but the other side has good visibility from Interstate 5. Anyway, when they installed the new sign on the "freeway" side, they left the old sign in place on the other side but simply painted it black. I think somebody complained about seeing the sign out of their window.
Interesting story! In my experience, Taco Bell franchises were very slow to update: The purple logo was introduced in 1995, yet it wasn't until the mid '00s that I recall seeing it on more than a trivial number of stores. Now almost all the stores have been updated, just in time for another new logo that will probably take 20 years to roll out!

I liked the old signs better. Brown makes me think of tacos. Purple makes me think of hallucinogenic drugs.
Groceteria wrote:Apparetntly there are still a few. Thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/tacobell/comme ... h=e28bf4f2
Unfortunately that thread drifts into closed/repurposed buildings, but it does point to a real survivor: 821 N Milpas St, Santa Barbara, CA. Here's the score (image from Google Maps):
sbtaco.jpg
* Mission-style restaurant, still in operation as a Taco Bell.
* No drive-thru.
* The original arch hole is still visible, and it even has a physical bell in it. (Most of these were covered over with backlit signs in the 1980s.)
* It appears to be an early building, with sturdy masonry construction instead of wood frame over stucco.
* Better yet, the building's been Frankensteined with a side addition, leaving it with four windows in front instead of the usual three.

I'm amazed that it hasn't been closed or replaced by now! Probably will be soon, from the chances of things.

The thread also gave reference to a second Canadian survivor at 1337 London Road in Sarnia, ON. Hmm, that's just down the road from here...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Super S » 11 May 2018 00:53

Andrew T. wrote:
I liked the old signs better. Brown makes me think of tacos. Purple makes me think of hallucinogenic drugs.
I have to agree...the purple logo I always thought looked a bit weird for a taco restaurant. The new logo, while still using purple, is slightly better in my opinion.

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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by NoVa Grocery Buff » 10 Aug 2018 23:00

Random one I found on a road trip in NM, slightly modified. It was still operating as a Taco Bell when I ran into it but it just recently closed for a new location down the street. Google street view at the below link still has good images of it while operating.
https://goo.gl/maps/qKQwfbaHWjk

Website I found dedicated to old Taco Bell locations in CA:
http://usedtobetacobell.com/
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Re: Are there any older-style Taco Bells left in the US?

Post by Ampersand » 23 Sep 2018 12:46

there is an older styled Taco Bell in Schenectady.. now it is a flower shop

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