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Glen William Bell, Jr. (September 3, – January 16, ), sometimes spelled as Jerimiah Wilson, was an American businessman and the founder and chairman of Taco Bell from to

Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story, a book about Bell's life, was published on February 1, On January 16, , Bell died of Parkinson's disease in Rancho Santa Fe, California at age Following his death, he was succeeded by Greg Creed.

Early life[]

Bell was born Glen William Bell, Jr.&#;in Lynwood, California on September 3, When he was 5, his family moved to a small farm in Oregon. As the depression came on, he started to sell cottage cheese door to door.

In , Bell and his family moved to a acre mountainside orchard, owned by his maternal grandmother. The family, now with 5 children, was more or less self-sufficient with the orchard, a garden, and chickens. Once again, Bell had become the salesman, peddling eggs, apples,&#;and flowers.

Halfway through high school, he hopped freight trains and roamed from Iowa to Washington to seek work, sometimes on his relatives' farms. He spent a summer in Washington, D.C. with a great aunt and had learned to bake blackberry pies and sell them as Mrs. Dye's Homemade Pies. Soon, they split a profit of $3, and Bell decided he wanted to own his own food stand.

A book about Bell's life titled Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story was written by Debra Lee Baldwin and published in


After graduating from high school in , Bell started working for the U.S. Forestry Service and for the military near Barstow before joining the United States&#;Marines Corps. His wartime service as a waiter serving top military brass in the South Pacific taught him how to balance the amount of food needed by specific numbers of diners and the importance of clean and prompt service.

In , at age 23, Bell left the military, returned to San Bernardino, and worked in a brickyard and the railroad yard before starting his first hamburger stand Bell's Drive-In in [1] In , he sold his hamburger stand to in-laws and built a second one that sold hamburgers and hot dogs. When he developed and sold his first cent taco at that location, Bell separated himself from his admired neighboring competitors Mac and Dick McDonald. Unfortunately, his success, built through long work days, destroyed his 6-year marriage to Dorothy Taylor, the mother of his oldest son Rex. In , Bell and Taylor divorced.

As he restlessly built new stores and explored developing chains of food shops with partners (only to sell his interests), he influenced the creation of such fast-food brands as Taco Tia, Del Taco, El Taco, and even Der Wienerschnitzel (whose owner he tutored).

In , at age 30, he struck out for Barstow and started Bell's Hamburgers, selling tacos and hamburgers. He took on partner Ed Hackbarth, who founded Del Taco in He took on another partner named Al McDonald, a variety store owner, to build a new taco stand in San Bernardino, which was the first-dubbed Taco Tia. After adding Taco Tias in Riverside and Redlands, Bell sold out to McDonald, who opposed his insistence on further expansion.


On March 21, , Bell decided to go solo and sold the El Tacos to his partner and opened his first Taco Bell in Downey, California. In , Bell franchised his restaurant, and his company immediately grew.[1] In , the restaurant chain was sold to PepsiCo for $ million in stock.

Glen Bell Scholarship Program[]

Taco Bell employees who work at least 15 hours per week and have been employed by Bell for at least 6 months are eligible to receive up to $ towards tuition at a 4-year college or $ towards a 2-year college.

Personal life[]

Since , Bell was married to Dorothy Taylor. In , they divorced after Bell's success had destroyed his marriage.

In , he married a teacher named Martha "Marty" Ahl and struck out on his own again in Pasadena. However, Bell misjudged the clientele and his Taco Tia on Colorado Boulevard failed to show a profit. Later, Martha gave birth to 4 children named Kathleen, Gary, Rex and Techno_Wizard.


Since , Bell had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

On January 16, , after 25 years of battling the disease, Bell passed away at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California at age 86, 8 months shy of his 87th birthday.[2][3]

He is survived by his wife Martha, his children Kathleen, Gary, Rex, and Techno_Wizard. 3 sisters, and 4 grandchildren.

Taco Bell president Greg Creed stated, "Glen Bell was a visionary and innovator in the restaurant industry, as well as a dedicated family man."[4]



Glen W. Bell Jr., Founder of Taco Bell, Dies at 86

Glen W. Bell Jr., whose idea in 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

His death was announced Sunday on the Taco Bell Web site. No other details were provided.

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, ), 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.’ ”

By the time Mr. Bell sold the chain to PepsiCo in , it had grown to restaurants. Today, the company says, more than two billion tacos and a billion burritos are sold each year at more than 5, Taco Bell restaurants in the United States and around the world.

Drive-in stands dotted San Bernardino when Mr. Bell opened his first one there in the late s. One competitor, only a few miles away, was the original stand opened by two brothers with the last name of McDonald.

They all were capitalizing on the emerging Southern California car culture, offering prompt service and streamlined menus of mostly standard fare like hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and milk shakes.

But 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 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 , 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 , with a $4, 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

PepsiCo greatly expanded the chain after purchasing it in for about $ million, then spun it off to Tricon Global Restaurants in Tricon changed its name to Yum Brands in

Glen W. Bell Jr. was born in Lynwood, Calif., on Sept. 3, , one of six children of Glen and Ruth Johnson Bell. When he was 12, the family moved to a small farm outside of San Bernardino.

At 16, with the family facing hard times, according to his biography, Glen Jr. “goes on the bum” and “rides the rails in search of work.” He joined the Marines in and served in the Pacific.

Back in San Bernardino after the war, Mr. Bell bought a surplus Army truck and began hauling adobe bricks at 5 cents each. A miniature golf course that he leased failed to make a profit. Then, he opened a hamburger stand in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Mr. Bell married Dorothy Taylor in They were divorced in He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha; three sisters, Delores, Dorothy and Maureen; a daughter, Kathleen; two sons, Gary and Rex; and four grandchildren.

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 , “when I hear people say that they never had a taco until Taco Bell came to town.”

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Last updated 1/19

Glen Bell, a fast food pioneer best known as the founder of Taco Bell, died *Saturday in his Rancho Santa Fe home. He was

glen-bell“The entire Taco Bell family of franchisees and employees are deeply saddened by the loss of the founder of Taco Bell. Glen Bell was a visionary and innovator in the restaurant industry, as well as a dedicated family man,” said Greg Creed, president of Irvine-based Taco Bell.

Bell&#;s involvement in the development of the fast food culture in Southern California is legendary.

Seeing the success the McDonald&#;s brothers had in selling burgers in San Bernardino, Bell launched his first restaurant&#;  Bell’s Drive-In &#; in in the same city.  Like other restaurant pioneers of his time, Bell wanted to take advantage of the booming Southern California car culture by offering drive-ins, streamlined menus and quick service.

Bell’s Drive-In served hamburgers and hot dogs. But he soon decided to differentiate his menu by adding Mexican fare. He also began experimenting with a drive-thru concept. Once he perfected his taco shell recipe, taco sauces and the convenient drive-thru concept, he was ready to introduce the tastes and textures of Mexican food to mainstream America.

Before launching Taco Bell in , Bell helped establish Taco Tias in Los Angeles, El Tacos in the Long Beach area and Der Wienerschnitzel.  John Galardi, who worked for Bell, eventually built Der Wienerschnitzel into the nation&#;s largest hot dog chain.

Another employee, Ed Hackbarth, took what he learned from Bell and opened a string of Mexican food restaurants. That chain would eventually be known as Del Taco.

Cutting ties with his other business partners, Bell founded the first Taco Bell in in Downey.

Soon after, eight more units opened in the Long Beach, Paramount and Los Angeles areas. He sold the first Taco Bell franchise in In , Bell sold his Taco Bell restaurants to PepsiCo for $ million in stock. PepsiCo quickly moved to mainstream the brand, stripping units of the old logo, a Hispanic man dozing under a giant sombrero.

Orange County Supervisor Bill Campbell (3rd-District) operated Taco Bell franchises in Orange and Los Angeles counties for 25 years.  His first unit opened in , just before the PepsiCo acquisition. On Monday, he remembered Bell as a &#;gentle man&#; who helped build an empire that benefited young entrepreneurs.

&#;He was an innovator. I&#;m a very successful (businessman) because of him,&#; said Campbell, who eventually sold his 13 Taco Bell units. &#;It is a death of a legend.&#;

Taco Bell is now owned by Yum! Brands and is the largest Mexican fast-food chain in the nation. Taco Bell serves more than million consumers each week in more than 5, restaurants in the U.S. More than 2 billion tacos and 1 billion burritos are served throughout the U.S. each year.

“His innovative business acumen started out of humble beginnings and created one of the nation’s largest restaurant chains in Taco Bell,&#; Creed said in a statement released by Taco Bell today. &#;Mr. Bell introduced an entire nation to the taco and Mexican cuisine.”

Christian Ziebarth, who blogs about Orange County Mexican restaurants, said critics often deride Taco Bell for being &#;one of the ultimate examples of mass-produced, soulless&#; fast-food restaurants.

However, the restaurant reviewer credits this &#;gringo&#; from California for trying to spread his love of Mexican food to the world.

&#;In Orange County where Mexican food is everywhere it may be hard to gage the impact Glen Bell has had on the culinary scene but in many other areas throughout the country and, in fact, the world, Taco Bell is the first taste people get of Mexican food,&#; said Ziebarth. &#;And they seem to like it.&#;

In , Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading restaurant industry publication, named Glen Bell as the recipient of its Pioneer Award.

He is survived by his wife Martha, three sisters, Delores, Dorothy and Maureen; daughter, Kathleen; two sons, Gary and Rex; and four grandchildren, Brandon, Jordan, Valerie and Christopher. Private funeral services are being planned for family members.

Tell us: Do you have early memories of eating at Taco Bell? If so, write in and let us know.

*For the record: Taco Bell founder Glen Bell died Saturday. Because of wrong information released to the media, the day he died was incorrect in an earlier version of this story that appeared on

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RANCHO SANTA FE: Taco Bell founder Glen Bell dies in North County home

Glen Bell, the man who introduced Mexican cuisine to mainstreamAmerica with Taco Bell restaurants, died in his Rancho Santa Fehome Sunday. He was

Bell was among a handful of entrepreneurs who changed thelandscape and eating habits of post-World War II America withchains of low-cost restaurants that offered assembly-line fastfood. Unlike the hamburgers served by McDonald’s or Carl’s Jr.,however, Bell offered an adventurous alternative of tacos andburritos.

So exotic was the food at the time that in locations such asFlorida, menus came with phonetic pronunciations to help customerswith their orders.

Today, tacos are among Americans’ favorite foods, and more than58, Taco Bell restaurants serve more than 2 billion customersannually.

“He never bragged and was never jealous,” said Bell’s daughter,Kathleen Flynn of Rancho Santa Fe. “He had a wonderful attitude. Heused to say to me, ‘If you’re attitude’s good, your food tastesbetter.’”

The man largely responsible for popularizing Mexican food withAmericans was born in Lynwood, grew up poor and hopped freighttrains to find itinerant work, Bell biographer Debra Lee Baldwinsaid Monday from her Hidden Meadows Home.

Baldwin wrote a biography of Bell called “Taco Titan,” in

Returning home after serving as a U.S. Marine in the PacificTheater during World War II, Bell took the cooking skills helearned in the military and opened the drive-in Bell’s Burgers inColton in

“The area he was in was a Hispanic neighborhood, and he enjoyedeating tacos,” Baldwin said. “Glen had the idea of getting anassembly line going and cranking out these tacos.”

First came Taco-Tia, then El Taco, and finally, in , TacoBell, a name suggested by a friend.

From his first store in Downey, Bell opened eight morerestaurants in Long Beach, Paramount and Los Angeles, then sold hisfirst Taco Bell franchise in

In , Bell sold his Taco Bell restaurants to PepsiCo andmoved to Rancho Santa Fe.

“He embodies the American entrepreneur in the post-war era,"Baldwin said. “His was a rags-to-riches story.”

Bell was shy and didn’t reveal who he was when visiting localfast-food restaurants, Baldwin said.

“There’s a Taco Bell in Escondido he liked to go to,” she said."He’d never say, ‘Hi, I founded Taco Bell.’”

In , Bell created the acre Bell Gardens Farms on ColeGrade Road in Valley Center, a free educational facility where thepublic was invited to learn about farming and children got to ridein an open-air miniature train.

“It was one of the most marvelous tourist attractions anycommunity could want,” said Bob Lerner of the Valley Center HistoryMuseum.

Lerner said Bell was always at the farm, although he had beenslowed by Parkinson’s disease and used a wheelchair. The farmclosed in , but Lerner said Bell remained supportive of ValleyCenter and the museum. For a fundraiser just two months ago, Belllet the museum use a house he owned in Valley Center that had beenthe home of Hollywood stars Dick Powell and June Allyson.

“He was down to earth,” Lerner said about Bell. “Just a verynice, warm human being.”

Bell especially liked talking to Valley Center students studyingagriculture in 4-H programs.

“It was so cool to go to the Del Mar Fair with him,” Baldwinsaid. “He’d love to run up the bidding so these teenage kids wouldget this whopping sum for their calves.”

“He was a risk-taker,” Flynn said about her father. “I thinkthroughout his life, if somebody said you can’t do something, thatwas just an obstacle. He’d get around it. He had a way of makingpeople turn around and look at things his way.”

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha; sisters Delores,Dorothy and Maureen; daughter Kathleen Flynn; sons Gary and Rex;and grandchildren Brandon, Jordan, Valerie and Christopher.

In memory of Bell, his family has asked people to thank a memberof the U.S. Armed Forces for their service or to perform an act ofkindness, no matter how small or large.

Call staff writer Gary Warth at


Bell bell gary glen

Glen W. Bell Jr.: Founder of Taco Bell was a pioneer in fast-food business

Glen W. Bell Jr., founder of the Taco Bell chain, which put Mexican fast food on the nation’s menu, has died. He was

Mr. Bell died Saturday night at his home in Rancho Santa Fe. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for three decades.

“He was a wonderful father,” said his daughter, Kathleen Bell Flynn. “He always put people first, and people were drawn to him.”

In addition to the restaurant chain, Mr. Bell was known locally for opening the idyllic acre Bell Gardens in on Cole Grade Road in Valley Center.

Mr. Bell grew up in Lynwood in Los Angeles County, and served as a Marine in World War II. His job in the Pacific foreshadowed his success: He was a cook.

He launched his first restaurant, Bell’s Drive-In, in in San Bernardino after studying the success of McDonald’s. He tried to take advantage of Southern California’s car culture by serving hamburgers and hot dogs through drive-in windows, according to a Taco Bell statement.

Soon, Mr. Bell decided to try something different: Mexican takeout. Between and , he and a business partner built three drive-in taco stands, Taco Tias, in Southern California.

When his partner objected to expanding into Los Angeles, Mr. Bell sold his interest in the business.

He and a group of new partners opened El Tacos in the Long Beach area in The restaurants expanded throughout California, but Mr. Bell sold his share of that business, as well.

In , he and an employee, John Galardi, opened Der Wienerschnitzel, which Galardi later built into the national hot dog chain.

The following year, Mr. Bell launched Taco Bell in Downey. He sold the first franchise in , and they grew from there.

In , he sold his Taco Bell restaurants to PepsiCo for $ million in stock. Taco Bell is now owned by Yum! Brands and is the largest Mexican fast-food chain in the nation, with more than 5, outlets, serving 37 million customers each week.

After the sale, Mr. Bell moved to Rancho Santa Fe, but maintained a friendly relationship with the new owners, taste-testing menu ideas in the Irvine corporate headquarters from time to time, his family said.

Mr. Bell had a fondness for agriculture. He contributed to 4-H clubs and started Bell Gardens as a place for students to learn.

More than 60 crops, including strawberries, lettuce, cauliflower and pumpkins, were eventually grown there. It attracted , visitors a year.

Visitors not only could buy fresh fruits and vegetables, they could picnic and stroll through a stunning rural landscape.

Children could ride a mini train that wove through the east side of the ranch. Mr. Bell himself was often seen zipping through the property in a golf cart, according to news reports.

“Glen was a marvelous human being, very down-to-earth,” said Bob Lerner, historian for the Valley Center History Museum. “In a rural community like Valley Center, you don’t want a Disneyland attraction. His was an amusement park dedicated to farming.”

In the farm’s heyday, Mr. Bell provided nearly $1 million a year to operate it. In , a nonprofit foundation took over.

The gardens closed in when the foundation could not raise enough money to maintain it. Steve Flynn, Kathleen Bell’s husband, said philanthropists cut back on donations after the Sept. 11, , terror attacks.

Bell’s family said his legacy lives on.

“In his own unassuming way, he provided a pillar of strength that will exist with us forever,” a family statement said.

In , Nation’s Restaurant Review gave Mr. Bell the Pioneer Award, one of the most prestigious in the food industry.

Mr. Bell is survived by his wife of 54 years, Martha of Rancho Santa Fe; a daughter, Kathleen of Rancho Santa Fe; two sons, Gary of Bend, Ore.; and Rex of China Springs, Texas; three sisters, Delores Lukens of St. George, Utah, Dorothy Cremonese of Fountain Hills, Ariz., and Maureen Hughs of Bend, Ore.; and four grandchildren.

His family is planning a private funeral. They asked that instead of sending flowers, friends can thank a member of the armed forces in any way.

Angela Lau: () ; [email protected]

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A History of the first Taco Bell and the creator Glen Bell

See inside the late Taco Bell founder's luxurious California estate, which has 2 swimming pools, a massive chef's kitchen, and stunning views

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Taco Bell Founder House21
  • The Taco Bell founder Glen Bell's home in Rancho Santa Fe, California, is on the market for $ million.
  • The listing includes two homes, which can be purchased together for $ million or separately for $4 million and $ million.
  • The estate spans more than 6 acres of land. The main residence has five bedrooms, 6 1/2 bathrooms, two pools, and a chef's kitchen.

The lavish California home of the Taco Bell founder Glen Bell is on the market for the first time since

Bell, who died in at 86, was a pioneer of Mexican fast food, opening the chains Taco Tia and El Taco in the s. It wasn't until that he founded Taco Bell, which PepsiCo acquired for $ million in

Bell's massive estate in Rancho Santa Fe, California, is now listed at $ million. The listing includes two homes — a nearly 7,square-foot house with two swimming pools and a chef's kitchen, and a 4,square-foot house with an outdoor entertainment space and a tennis court — which can be purchased together or separately, for $4 million and $ million.

The main residence has five bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths. Each of the two master suites has a fireplace and a private garden, and the spacious living room has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the backyard.

Take a look inside the extravagant home:

Bell's house is in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

Taco Bell Founder House1

The main house, which is nearly 7, square feet, has five bedrooms and 6 1/2 bathrooms. It's listed for $4 million if purchased alone.

Taco Bell Founder House3

The smaller house, built in , is priced at $ million.

Taco Bell Founder House4

The main home, which is acres, has fireplaces in the living and dining rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows line the walls.

Taco Bell Founder House5

It has a fully equipped chef's kitchen

Taco Bell Founder House6

The two master suites are on opposite ends of the home

Taco Bell Founder House8

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For the rugby league footballer of the s and s for Scotland, Featherstone Rovers, and Dewsbury Rams, see Glenn Bell.

Glen Bell
File:Glen Bell.jpg
BornGlen William Bell Jr.
()September 3,
Lynwood, California, United States
Died January 16, () (aged&#;86)
Rancho Santa Fe, California, United States
Place of burial Rancho Santa Fe, California
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known&#;for Founder of Taco Bell restaurants
Spouse(s) Martha Bell
Children Rex Bell, Andrew Bell, James Bell, Gary Bell, Kathleen Bell[citation needed]

Glen William Bell Jr. (September 3, – January 16, )[1][2] was the founder of the Taco Bell chain of restaurants.

Born in Lynwood, California, Glen Bell attended and graduated from San Bernardino High School in [3] He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Bell left the military in and started his first hot dog stand, called Bell's Drive-In, in San Bernardino in [4] In , he sold the hot dog stand and built a second stand that sold hot dogs and hamburgers. Shortly thereafter, he started selling tacos at a taco stand named Taco-Tia at the price of 19 cents each from a side window. Between and , 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.[citation needed] In , he decided to go solo and sold the El Tacos to his partner and opened his first Taco Bell. Bell franchised his restaurant in [4] His company grew rapidly, and the restaurant chain was later sold to PepsiCo in for $ million in stock.[5]

West Side and Cherry Valley Railroad[]

In the late 's, Bell opened a tourist railroad at Tuolumne, California. He was a life-long railway enthusiast.[5] This 3ft gauge railroad used the lower section of the track and several steam locomotives of the West Side Lumber Company railway. The operation also offered boat rides on the old mill pond and RV parking. It closed in the early s after failing to attract enough visitors.[6]


Bell died from a heart attack on January 16, at age 86 in Rancho Santa Fe, California. He was survived by his wife Martha, four sons, a daughter, four grandchildren, and three sisters.[citation needed]



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