Before talking chihuahuas and taco shells made of Doritos, Glen Bell opened the very first Taco Bell, in Downey, California in March 1962. The restaurant is credited with popularizing Mexican food for the masses via those addictive, weird yellow taco shells. It's unclear when the Downey location closed, but the Downey Patriot reports that "for a number of years, the Taco Bell building was the location of an independent fast food restaurant." That business shuttered in December and a fence has gone up since then. Because there's no clear plan for the building's future, local preservation group the Downey Conservancy has labeled the building "endangered."
There's a much newer looking combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell just across the street, so it's not like the original taco stand is in a good location to reopen. Though the building's missing that original bell, it's still valuable to Downey historically—the Conservancy says it's possible that the building could be relocated to another location in the city, possibly for adaptive reuse as a tourism center (Downey's looking to add lots of new hotel rooms) or as a business-to-business hub. Downey's a veritable hotbed of American chain restaurant history: it's also home to the oldest McDonald's still operating and the former Harvey's Broiler, the largest drive-in in the world when it opened in 1958.
· First Taco Bell Building May Be Demolished [DP]