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Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story

Book Information: 

One of America’s most successful entrepreneurs, who worked with others who also became business successes, Glen William Bell, Jr. was an early figure in chain restaurants and franchising. Glen cooperated with writer Debra Lee Baldwin to produce a deeply interesting book about a business legend’s journey through life’s bumpy road. Every few pages the reader sees a few of “Glen’s Recipes for Success,” a list of 60 principles to help not just in business, but in life.

This is a biography, not a how-to on handling the nuts and bolts of a restaurant business, which the title should make clear.

Glen seems to have encountered most, if not all, of the typical obstacles that businesspeople run into in life and on the road to establishing a business. He suffered from them and dealt with them.

He did not get off to a smooth start in life. His family lived a financially austere life during the Depression years.

Glen joined the Marines in 1943, at the age of 19, was sent to the Pacific, and soon was selected, because of his personal qualities (chief of which was not blabbing what he'd heard), to wait on the tables of the high brass, where he overhead conversations of their battle strategies. He also had other assignments in the Marines, including guard duty in a combat zone on Guam. He was with the first Americans to go to China as the war wound down.

Back in the States after the War, Glen married and established a hot dog stand, then a combination hamburger-hot dog stand. Next he pioneered tacos for American palates and fast servings. His young wife didn’t have confidence in his business judgment, did not like his long hours away from home, and thought tacos was a dumb business idea. They divorced. She received their house, Glen’s two stands (all he had at the time) and their bank account. Her new boyfriend was soon running Glen’s old businesses.

Glen had business philosophical differences with early partners, causing each to go their own way. Finally, on his own and with second wife, Marty, who worked hard alongside him, he began to achieve considerable success, franchising Taco Bell in 1962 and selling it to PepsiCo in 1978 for $125 million in stock. Along the way his former partners, franchisees, managers and employees had worked, learned and taken their own paths to business success.

This is a great life story that has the classic elements brought to life: a belief in a business vision, persistence and diligence in spite of obstacles and the opposition of friends and loved ones, severed relationships, incredible success and lessons learned along the way.

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About Pualani Jensen

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