After social media campaign saves it, 1st-ever Taco Bell stand carefully moves to new location
IRVINE, Calif. — Taco Bell’s first stand, which was threatened with demolition, completed a slow-motion move from Downey, Calif., to company headquarters in Irvine, Calif., where it will be preserved.
The transport took about three hours. The stand known as “Numero Uno” arrived at Taco Bell’s corporate headquarters around 1:25 a.m., Friday according to updated photo images posted by the company. It left its original location, 47 miles north at 10:30 p.m. Thursday.
The 400-square foot stand was moved aboard an extended big rig accompanied by a California Highway Patrol escort. A 1.31 a.m. photo showed it stationed by temporary landscaping in front of the company’s corporate offices.
“This is arguably the most important restaurant in our company’s history,” Taco Bell Corp. CEO Brian Niccol said. “To think a business like ours that spans 6,000 restaurants around the globe started with a walk-up window no bigger than a two-car garage is truly inspirational. When we heard about the chance of it being demolished, we had to step in. We owe that to our fans, we owe that to (company founder) Glen Bell.”
The stand at 7112 Firestone Blvd. opened in 1962, anchoring a “Mexican-inspired” center. Its opening marked a shift in the burger-dominated fast-food world. As Niccol said, the stand brought “Mexican-inspired food to the masses.”
The eatery closed in 1986 as the chain grew with fancier locations outfitted with drive-thru windows. It re-opened as a series of other restaurants but has been vacant since December. The property was scheduled to be redeveloped, meaning “Numero Uno” was going to be razed.
A social media campaign to save the building ensued. The conservation group We Are The Next coordinated with the company to arrange for the building to be moved.
“This building isn’t designed by a famous architect, and it’s not particularly beautiful in the conventional sense. But it does demonstrate how even the most ordinary buildings can tell tremendous stories,” said Katie Rispoli, executive director of We Are The Next. “By saving and conserving structures like the first Taco Bell in Downey, we hope to set a precedent and demonstrate the great power that can come from unexpected histories in seemingly ordinary places.”
The 20-foot-by-20-foot building passed through Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, La Palma, Buena Park, Anaheim, Tustin and Orange before arriving in Irvine.
Taco Bell executives will keep the building in storage at its corporate headquarters until they finalize rehabilitation and re-use plans.