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Glen Bell

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Glen Bell
Glen William Bell Jr.

(1923-09-03)September 3, 1923
DiedJanuary 16, 2010(2010-01-16) (aged 86)
Resting placeRancho Santa Fe, California
Years active1948–2010
Known forFounder of Taco Bell restaurants
SpouseMartha Bell

Glen William Bell Jr. (September 3, 1923 – January 16, 2010)[1][2] was an American restaurateur who founded the Taco Bell chain of restaurants.


Glen Bell was born in Lynwood, California, to Glen William Bell Sr. and Ruth Elizabeth Bell (née Johnson). His parents were born in the Midwest with his mother having been born in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota and his father in Franklin County, Iowa. Bell's mother Ruth was born to a half Swedish father and a predominantly English mother. His father Glen Sr. was born to a German father and predominantly English mother, Glen also had colonial New England ancestry through both his parents families. Bell graduated from San Bernardino High School in 1941.[3] He served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a cook during World War II. After the Marines, he started his first hot dog stand 'Bell's Drive-In', in San Bernardino in 1948.[4][5] In 1952, he sold the hot dog stand and built a second location selling hot dogs and hamburgers. He soon started selling tacos at a taco stand named Taco-Tia at 19 cents each from a side window. Between 1954 and 1955, he opened three Taco Tias in the San Bernardino area, eventually selling those restaurants and opening four El Tacos with a partner in the Long Beach area. He partnered with John Galardi, originally hired as a part-time worker and then a manager. Galardi later founded the Wienerschnitzel hot dog chain.[6][7]

Glen Bell learned how to make tacos from the Mitla Café in San Bernardino.[8][9][10]

In 1962, he went solo and sold the El Tacos to his partner and opened his first Taco Bell in Downey, California. Bell franchised his restaurant in 1964.[4] His company grew rapidly, and the 868-restaurant chain was later sold to PepsiCo in 1978 for $125 million in stock.[11]

West Side and Cherry Valley Railroad[edit]

In the late 1970s, Bell opened a tourist railroad at Tuolumne, California.[12] This 3 ft (914 mm) gauge railroad used the lower section of the track and several steam locomotives of the West Side Lumber Company railway. The operation offered boat rides on the old mill pond and RV parking. In the initial plan, there were themed areas of the park with restaurants and stores. Glen Bell was able to locate and purchase old equipment (trains, cars, water towers, etc.) that were used in logging operations and brought to the park. It closed in the early 1980s after falling traffic.

The property was eventually sold off to the Tuolumne tribe of the Mi Wuk Natives who have developed the land including event grounds.


Bell died from Parkinson's disease on January 16, 2010, at age 86 in Rancho Santa Fe, California, leaving his wife, Martha, two sons, one daughter, four grandchildren, and three sisters.[13][14][15][16][17]


  1. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (January 18, 2010). "Glen W. Bell Jr., Founder of Taco Bell, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  2. ^ Kitchen, Michael. "Taco Bell founder dies at age 86". MarketWatch.
  3. ^ "San Bernardino City Schools – Official Website – Distinguished Cardinal Citizens". Sbcusd.com. December 7, 1936. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Taco Bell founder dies at age 86". NBC News. January 18, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. ^ Meares, Hadley (September 16, 2016). "Transforming the Taco: The Origins of Taco Bell". KCET. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  6. ^ "Taco Bell | Our History". www.tacobell.com. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  7. ^ "Wienerschnitzel story had its roots in Inland Empire". April 16, 2013.
  8. ^ Elliott, Farley (January 30, 2015). "Taco Bell Wouldn't Exist Without San Bernardino's Mitla Cafe". Eater LA.
  9. ^ Morehouse, Lisa. "So much more than tacos: San Bernardino's Mitla Cafe". www.kalw.org.
  10. ^ "Newsletter: The best thing our restaurant critic ate this summer". Los Angeles Times. September 14, 2019.
  11. ^ "Taco Bell founder dies at age 86". NBC News. January 19, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  12. ^ Cook, Walt (January 19, 2010). "Taco Bell founder remembered". The Union Democrat. Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  13. ^ AP (January 18, 2010). "Taco Bell founder dies at age 86". msnbc.com. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  14. ^ Oliver, Myrna (January 19, 2010). "Glen W. Bell Jr. dies at 86; founder of Taco Bell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  15. ^ "Taco Bell founder Glen W Bell dies aged 86". Daily Telegraph. January 19, 2010. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  16. ^ Memmott, Mark (January 18, 2010). "Glen Bell, Founder Of Taco Bell, Has Died". NPR.org. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  17. ^ "Glen W. Bell Jr". Legacy.com.