Glen W. Bell Jr., founder of Irvine-based Taco Bell and one of the key innovators of the fast food industry, passed away over the weekend in his Rancho Santa Fe home at the age of 86.
Bell, with his strong leadership skills and customer-service focus, is credited with the success of the quick-service food chain, which serves nearly 37 million consumers every week in more than 5,600 stores in the U.S.
"The entire Taco Bell family of franchisees and employees are deeply saddened by the loss of the founder of Taco Bell," says Greg Creed, the chain's president and chief concept officer.
He calls Bell a "visionary and innovator" in the industry.
Bell founded Taco Bell in Downey in 1962, but his work in the industry began years before that. In 1948, he opened Bell's Drive-In in San Bernardino. Bell capitalized on the growing "car culture," according to the company, by offering drive-ins, streamlined menus and fast, efficient service. Bell's Drive-In began by serving hamburgers and hot dogs, but Bell then branched out to takeout tacos and other Mexican fare.
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