Fast food entrepreneur. Born in 1923, Bell returned home to San Bernardino, California, after serving in the Marine Corps during World War II. He opened and sold his first take-out hot dog stand, Bell’s Drive-In, by 1952. Always on the lookout for alternative menu items, Bell began selling 19-cent tacos from a side window in one of his stands.
Soon, tacos sold so well that he and a partner opened three Taco Tias in the San Bernardino area. Wanting to grow, Bell sold the restaurants, forming a new partnership that opened four El Tacos. But Bell’s true desire was to go solo, so he sold the El Tacos to his partners and opened the first Taco Bell in 1962, eventually franchising in 1964.
Since then, Taco Bell has grown to become the nation’s leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain. Bell resigned as Chairman of the Board in 1975 and three years later, he sold his interest to PepsiCo, Inc.