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Del Taco

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Del Taco Restaurants, Inc.
Company typeSubsidiary
GenreFast food
FoundedSeptember 16, 1964; 59 years ago (1964-09-16)
Yermo, California[1]
FoundersEd Hackbarth
David Jameson[1]
25521 Commercentre Drive, Lake Forest, California
Number of locations
594 as of May 1, 2023[2]
Area served
Key people
  • Tom Rose (Brand President)
RevenueIncrease US$513 million (2019)[4]
Number of employees
8,000 (2019 [4])
ParentJack in the Box (2022–present)

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. is an American fast-food restaurant chain that specializes in American-style Mexican cuisine, as well as American foods such as burgers, fries and shakes. Del Taco is led by Brand President Tom Rose,[5] and is headquartered in Lake Forest, California.[6] On December 6, 2021, Jack in the Box announced it was acquiring Del Taco for $12.51 per share. The acquisition was finalized in March 2022.[7][8][9] Del Taco has approximately 600 locations in 16 US states.

A Del Taco restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada



The first Del Taco restaurant was opened by Ed Hackbarth and David Jameson in Yermo, California, east of Barstow, on September 16, 1964,[1] under the name "Casa Del Taco". On the first day of business, Del Taco made $169 (the equivalent of $1,660 in 2023[10]).[1] Success of the first restaurant led to two in Barstow, one in Needles, and a fifth restaurant in Corona (the first Del Taco with a drive-through window). Dick Naugle, who installed the kitchen equipment in the Corona store, was impressed by the design and joined Hackbarth and Jameson in the fledgling business. In 1966, the trio founded Red-E-Food Systems, Inc., with the idea of franchising the Del Taco brand.[11] That same year, the original Del Taco sun logo was created. In 1967, Del Taco introduced their bean and cheese burrito with green or red sauce.[1]


Naugle left the company early in the decade to start Naugles. In 1973, the company dropped "Casa" from its name and Red-E-Food Systems became Del Taco, Inc. By that time, the company opened a new restaurant every month. In 1976, Hackbarth and Jameson sold Del Taco to a group of investors. The new owners sold the exclusive rights to use and develop the Del Taco name throughout the US (excluding California; Eugene, Oregon; and Yuma, Arizona) to W. R. Grace and Company. Grace, primarily a chemicals company, founded a new company, Del Taco Restaurants Inc. of Dallas, Texas, and a new subsidiary, DTG Inc., to oversee the fast food chains it was acquiring.[11] The franchise continued to expand. In 1977, there were 50 Del Taco restaurants. In 1978, there were 100.[citation needed]


In 1981, Del Taco had approximately 350 restaurants (located almost exclusively in California).[citation needed]

In February 1989, Del Taco merged their restaurants with the 171 Naugles' Mexican fast food outlets. Anwar Soliman was instrumental in the move. He was the mastermind behind the purchase of the rights to expand Del Taco throughout the US in 1977.[11] With the merger, Del Taco increased in size, and spread as far east as Hickory, North Carolina. In the 1980s, Del Taco began to stay open all night.[1] In Lake Forest, California, there are two Del Tacos directly across the street from each other on Trabuco Road and El Toro Road. The one at the 22401 El Toro Road address was formerly a Naugles. In Orange, two Del Tacos are across the street from each other on Tustin Avenue. The one with the Lincoln Avenue address was formerly a Naugles.


In 1990, Kevin K. Moriarty joined Del Taco as CEO, soon becoming the owner of the brand in conjunction with his management team. His team launched efforts to grow the brand's image while improving the total customer experience.[1]

In 1992, Del Taco recaptured exclusive rights to its name from W. R. Grace and Company, and was able to expand outside of California.[12] Del Taco launched a $14 million program to redesign its restaurant exteriors, kitchens and corporate logo. The company presented its Concept 2000 restaurant design, and in August 1992 introduced its new logo. In place of the orange and blue sunset, there was a yellow sun that rose over green mountains against a red background. These colors represented the primary ingredients of Del Taco food: cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Later that year, executives announced plans to expand the chain to 500 stores by 1995, and to add another 225 by 2000. The first new markets it sought were Las Vegas, Nevada; St. Louis, Missouri; and the Northeast Corridor.[11]

Del Taco filed for protection in 1993 under Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Although renovations were made to keep Del Taco profitable, the company continued to pay rent on several unprofitable outlets that had been closed. They also attempted to negotiate lease reductions on other high-cost sites. Also, Del Taco had been sued for $3 million by a former supplier. This was settled out of court.[11]

From 1994 through 1998, Del Taco shrank and then grew. Although the company signed a deal to open 15 franchise stores in the Northeast with many more in the Southeast, the chain was not near the goals publicized earlier. In 1995, Del Taco had 300 stores instead of growing to 500 stores. The chain began to prosper in 1997 when total sales reached an estimated $250 million. By December 1998, Del Taco had 325 stores in 12 states.[11]


By 2000, Del Taco had 372 stores located in ten US states. That year a deal was signed with the Compass Group PLC that enabled Del Taco stores to open on US military bases. The first to do business was at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary's County, Maryland, in early 2001. Other Del Tacos were planned for US bases in Puerto Rico and Naples, Italy.[11]

In early 2001, a group of former Del Taco employees, all of whom were black, brought a discrimination suit against the chain. The group claimed that while working at Del Taco in the Los Angeles area, they had suffered verbal abuse, had been passed over for promotions in favor of Hispanic workers, and were being fired and replaced by illegal immigrants. The case had not been settled.[11]

In an effort to improve its reputation, Del Taco launched a sports-sponsorship program with teams in eight US states, including the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Arizona Coyotes hockey teams, basketball's Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas's football and basketball teams, and several minor league hockey and baseball teams.[citation needed] The deal placed the Del Taco logo on signs, drink cups and special promotional items at the stadia of partner teams. It paid off as, in 2003, Del Taco announced that their restaurants had topped $1 million per store in average annual sales, which was remarkable considering that other US stores, notably McDonald's and Carl's Jr., featured a decrease in annual sales.[11]

In 2004, private Nashville, Tennessee-based Sagittarius Brands, LLC (the parent company of Captain D's Seafood), purchased Del Taco.

In January 2008, Del Taco announced the opening of its 500th restaurant in Burbank, California.[13] On April 27, 2009, a new Del Taco opened in Oviedo, Florida, marking the first time since the 1980s that Del Taco was available in the Orlando area. This location has since closed. There are two other Orlando locations still open.[14]


The Del Taco in Denton, Texas, which opened in 2010 and closed five years later

Del Taco returned to Texas with a new location in Denton, Texas. W. R. Grace and Company had previously owned and operated locations in Texas with a licensing agreement in 1978, but sold the restaurants to Taco Bell in 1992.[15] Guillermo Perales, one of the largest Hispanic restaurateurs in the nation, signed a franchisee agreement in 2011 to open additional locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas.[16]

In 2011, Del Taco opened four locations in Colorado in Denver and Colorado Springs; it grew to 21 stores across the state.[17] In March 2012, a location opened in Houston with plans for further expansion in the Houston area (that location was defunct by May 2015),[18] including both Harris County and Montgomery County.[19] In December 2012, a Del Taco opened in Cedar Park, Texas. Another was opened in Round Rock, Texas, in 2013. Del Taco entered Oklahoma in December 2013, opening its first store in Moore. Also in 2013, Del Taco entered the River Region, adding a restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama, which closed in 2016. In summer 2014, a store opened in Edmond, Oklahoma.

Del Taco was purchased by Levy Acquisition Corporation and became a public company on June 30, 2015.[20]


A Del Taco outlet in Reseda, Los Angeles, California, occupying a former Naugles location

In October 2020, Del Taco announced an expansion into the Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, markets.[21] Del Taco also opened a location in Guam.

In September 2021, Del Taco announced it will expand into Virginia starting with the Hampton Roads area, and its first store expected to open in Virginia Beach.[22][23] In the same month, Del Taco released their new rewards program app, called "Del Yeah! Rewards".[24]

On December 6, 2021, Jack in the Box announced it was acquiring Del Taco, saying the merger will cause both companies to benefit "from a stronger financial model, gaining greater scale to invest in digital and technology capabilities, and unit growth for both brands". The combined company will have more than 2,800 locations across 25 states. The acquisition closed in March 2022 for about $585 million.[9][25][26] [27]

States with at least 1 Del Taco location as of January 2023


The chain operates in 15 US states, 1 US Territory (Guam), and had 594 locations as of May 1, 2023.[2] The majority of their restaurants are in California. Del Taco also operates in several other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington. The company has a handful of locations east of the Mississippi.

Las Vegas, Nevada, has the most Del Tacos of any single city, and California has the most Del Tacos of any state.[2]


The signature taco of the chain.

Del Taco's standard menu includes:[11]

  • Hard Shell Tacos
  • Soft Tacos
  • Burritos
  • Quesadillas
  • Nachos
  • Deluxe Taco Salad
  • Crinkle Cut French Fries
  • Chili Cheddar Fries
  • Double Del Cheeseburger
  • Bacon Del Cheeseburger
  • Triple Del Cheeseburger
  • Fries
  • Shakes
  • Dinner Burritos (at least four types)

On April 25, 2019, Del Taco introduced plant-based Beyond Tacos nationwide in partnership with Beyond Meat.[28] Since this introduction, Del Taco has created multiple other vegetarian and vegan menu items using Beyond Meat's plant-based crumbles including the Beyond Avocado Taco, the Epic Beyond Cali Burrito, and the Beyond 8 Layer Burrito.[29] On January 29, 2020, Del Taco launched a new dollar menu, with items costing a dollar or less before tax.[30]


The first mascot of Del Taco was a character of the same name used from 1999 through 2000. Del Taco was sued by Zorro Productions, Inc., and Tristar Pictures, Inc., who claimed that the "Del Taco" character – masked and costumed in black – infringed on their rights to the trademark Zorro figure. Del Taco settled the suit in January 2000, agreeing to make changes to the Del Taco character, and soon discontinued the ad campaign.[11]

From 2000 through early 2006, Del Taco used Gregg Binkley to play "Dan" in commercials. A clumsy spokesman, Dan was known for antics during commercials. Dan destroyed cars, broke hockey-rink glass, and held a sales event at a nude beach, while promoting a specific item for Del Taco.[31]

From August 2007 through July 2008, Del Taco featured "The Beast" in their commercials. "The Beast", a personification of hunger, typically stood next to a customer and persuaded him to order a particular item (or items) so that they could "Feed the Beast" (Del Taco's slogan). "The Beast" made his debut in August 2007 promoting Del Taco's improved Chicken Soft Taco. He also endorsed the Crispy Fish Taco in February 2008, the improved Chicken Quesadilla in April 2008, and Del's Deal in June 2008.[32]

Inside a Del Taco restaurant

Del Taco has used a variety of commercials to promote the slogan, "Go Bold or Go Home". The first commercial featured a team of miniature "Mole Men" to promote the Spicy Chicken Mole Soft Taco, which aired in August 2008. Ads included Del Taco's promotion of their improved regular taco in September 2008, the Classic Combo Deal in November 2008, three separate meal deals for under three dollars in January 2009, the crispy shrimp taco in February 2009, the chicken soft taco in April 2009, and the chicken fajita burrito in June 2009.[33][34][35][36]

On June 27, 2018, Del Taco launched a campaign celebrating employees' successes while working at their restaurants using the new slogan, "Celebrating the hardest working hands in fast food," although the slogan, "That's unfreshing believable", is still used to promote their fresh food.[37]

Popular culture[edit]

  • On the Netflix show Grace and Frankie, Frankie, played by Lily Tomlin, regularly mentions her love of Del Taco throughout the series. Scenes include her revealing that she and her husband once bought a franchise and Frankie taking Grace for her first Del Taco visit.[38][39]
  • A popular Vine by Gasoleen TV features her reading a Del Taco sign that has incorrect spacing. The sign says: "FR E SH A VOCA DO"[40] Del Taco has gone on to use this phrase on a Twitter marketing campaign.[41]
  • A popular YouTube channel, thecreaturehub, featured the Barstow location (the "oldest operating location") on both their Road to E3 series from 2014-2015, in which the restaurant was one of the group's stops on the trips.


In 2018, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against Del Taco, stating that the shift leader and general manager of stores near Rancho Cucamonga, California, harassed female employees through vulgar comments, physical conduct, and propositions of sex. The EEOC stated that the harassment occurred almost daily, and those who spoke up were retaliated against by having their work hours shortened or schedules changed. In December 2020, Del Taco settled the lawsuit by agreeing to pay $12.5 million and enter a three-year consent decree. The decree required Del Taco to train employees on anti-discrimination laws with an emphasis on sexual harassment, retain an employment monitor, and make it easier for employees to report harassment and discrimination.[42] [43]

In 2017, Del Taco was accused of violating state wage and hour laws, with the case including people who worked for the company between 2012 and 2021. In June 2022, Del Taco agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit in California for $50 million.[44]


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  2. ^ a b c "Index of Locations". DelTaco.com. Del Taco. June 1, 2022. Retrieved May 1, 2023.
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  4. ^ a b "Del Taco Form 10-K 2020" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Tom Rose as New del Taco Brand President" (Press release). September 12, 2023.
  6. ^ "Feedback". Del Taco. Archived from the original on March 8, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
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  9. ^ a b Lucas, Amelia (December 6, 2021). "Jack in the Box buys Del Taco in $575 million deal". CNBC. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
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  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Del Taco, Inc. History". FundingUniverse. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  12. ^ Woodyard, Chris (July 28, 1992). "Bidding for a Bigger Bite". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  13. ^ "Del Taco Opens 500th Restaurant". QSR Magazine. Journalistic, Inc. January 8, 2008. Archived from the original on January 14, 2008.
  14. ^ Collings, Buddy (April 8, 2009). "Local varsity athletes juggle bases, turf". Orlando Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2009.
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  17. ^ "Colorado Locations". DelTaco.com. Del Taco. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  18. ^ Kearney, Syd (May 21, 2015). "Del Taco closes its only Houston area store". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  19. ^ Morago, Greg (March 27, 2012). "Houston's first Del Taco opens March 28". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  20. ^ Luna, Nancy (June 30, 2015). "1,500 more Del Tacos: Deal with Larry Levy finalized – with big expansion plans". The Orange County Register. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  21. ^ "California taco chain coming to the Columbus area". bizjournals.com. October 7, 2020.
  22. ^ "Del Taco is coming to Virginia - first of 10 locations coming to the state". richmond.com. September 16, 2021.
  23. ^ "Popular Mexican restaurant chain Del Taco coming to Hampton Roads". wavy.com. September 16, 2021.
  24. ^ Kelso, Alicia (September 17, 2021). "Del Taco rolls out Del Yeah Rewards program". RestaurantDive.com. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  25. ^ Wack, Chris (December 6, 2021). "Jack in the Box to Buy Del Taco Restaurants". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved December 6, 2021.
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  28. ^ "Del Taco Introduces Beyond Tacos Nationwide". BeyondMeat.com. April 15, 2019. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
  29. ^ Braden (August 12, 2019). "Vegan Options at Del Taco in 2019". vegknowledge.com. Veg Knowledge. Retrieved August 12, 2019.
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  32. ^ Luna, Nancy (February 21, 2008). "Del Taco's latest Beast ad dubbed 'Annoying'". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  33. ^ "Three is Better at Del Taco! New $3 Meals Offer Value, Taste And a Drink" (Press release). Reuters. January 13, 2009. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  34. ^ "Del Taco's Bringing Shrimp Back" (Press release). Reuters. February 25, 2009. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  35. ^ "Del Taco adds chicken soft taco, burrito value promos" (Press release). QSR Web. April 24, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  36. ^ "Del Taco Introduces New Customizable Chicken Fajita Burrito" (Press release). Reuters. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  37. ^ Zanger, Doug (June 27, 2018). "The Hardest Working Hands in Fast Food Get a Break for Del Taco". Adweek.com. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  38. ^ "One time, Sol and I ended up buying a Del Taco franchise". Yarn.
  39. ^ "Springfield! Springfield!". www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk.
  40. ^ #FRESHAVOCADO (Never Seen Before Full Length Version), retrieved November 22, 2022
  41. ^ Twitter https://twitter.com/deltaco/status/1156459479535218689?lang=en. Retrieved November 22, 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. ^ Taylor, Kate. "Del Taco will pay more than $1 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. It's just the tip of the iceberg for a growing problem plaguing restaurant workers". Business Insider. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  43. ^ "Del Taco settles U.S. sexual harassment charges, enters consent decree". Reuters.com. December 2, 2020. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  44. ^ Maze, Jonathan (June 13, 2022). "Del Taco to pay $50M to settle a wage-and-hour lawsuit". Restaurant Business. Retrieved June 17, 2022.

External links[edit]