Owning a Taco Bell Franchise

Taco Bell restaurant
••• Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

Taco Bell is one of the most successful restaurant concepts of the 20th century. Its history stretches back to the 1950s, when Glenn Bell got his start in the Mexican food business. Between 1954 and 1955, Bell opened three Taco-Tia stands, which he later sold to his partners. After trying a different concept, El Taco, Bell eventually opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California, in 1962. He franchised the Taco Bell concept in 1964, and it went on to become a global sensation.

Today, Taco Bell is part of Yum! Brands, Inc., which is the world's largest restaurant system, with more than 48,000 KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut restaurants in more than 145 countries and territories.

Taco Bell Performance

Taco Bell is the world's leading Mexican-style quick-service restaurant chain, serving more than 46 million consumers each day and reaching over $10.7 billion in sales in 2018. Menu items include tacos, burritos, nachos, and other specialty items with worldwide recognition and popularity.

As of 2018, Taco Bell is leading Yum! in same-store sales growth year over year, at 4%. The brand's worldwide growth of 6% matched KFC's as well. Average sales per unit for a Taco Bell in the U.S. sat at $1.6 million. In 2019, more than 90% of the Taco Bell restaurants were owned and operated by independent franchisees.

Getting Started

If you have a passion for operations, excellence, and team building, Taco Bell wants you to open a franchise. A stand-alone restaurant runs between $1,200,000 and $2,600,000, but these figures do not include the land or lease costs.

Yum! Brands offers a complete training program that covers brand training and leadership courses at Yum! University for both you and your team. Performance improvement programs and support are also offered with five days of on-site training in the corporate training center in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

What We Like

In a word: multi-branding. Taco Bell went public in 1970 and was acquired in 1978 by PepsiCo Inc., which spun off KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, forming Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., the world’s largest restaurant company with revenues in excess of $22 billion. In 2002, Tricon became Yum! Brands Inc., and today, Taco Bell Express brand outlets can be found in stand-alone units alongside these sister eateries.

Multi-branding means power and profits, so if you can “think outside the bun” you can “make a run for the border” because “there’s nothing ordinary about it.” Taco Bell has more taglines than a school playground, and satisfied consumers remember them.

The Pros

  • Absentee ownership: It appears that although a hands-on operation, absentee ownership is allowed. If you have the money to own one, you are probably at the beach house most of the time, anyway.
  • Ranking: Taco Bell ranks fourth on the Entrepreneur Franchise 500.

The Cons

  • It's costly to get started: On top of the costs of launching the business, You'll pay between $25,000 and $45,000 in franchise fees for a Taco Bell, plus an ongoing royalty fee of 5.5% and a marketing fee of 4.25%. Third-party financing is available.
  • Staffing requirements: With 25 employees recommended per franchise, overhead is higher than normal.

Taco Bell Franchise Information

  • Business established: 1962
  • Franchising since: 1964
  • Total investment: $1.2 million to $2.6 million
  • Net worth requirement: $1.5 million
  • Cash liquidity requirement: $750,000
  • Franchising Fee: $25,000-$45,000
  • Royalty fee: $5.5%
  • Marketing fee: $4.25%