City News

With a boozy Taco Bell on the way, State Street could be ready to live más

A Taco Bell that serves liquor is set to take over this winter the space of a former downtown Wendy’s restaurant, which closed in March. 

Image By: Gina Heeb

A Taco Bell that also serves margaritas is slated to open in the campus area this winter.

Bell American Group plans to open a Taco Bell Cantina — a version of the original fast food restaurant that serves alcohol and doesn’t have a drive-thru — on State Street this December.

The Taco Bell Cantina restaurant chain is designed for areas “where people experience our brand differently,” Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol said in a press release.

“Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs,” Niccol said.

The restaurant plans to serve liquor, wine and beer in addition to its standard menu of tacos, burritos, nachos and more, according to the business plan submitted to city officials for review. Its menu features drinks including frozen margarita and pina colada drinks, tequila and rum shots and premium beer.

But it’s unclear whether all of those options will make it to the State Street location menu. They must first get approval from the city to serve liquor, a task that has previously been difficult for restaurants and bars applying in the area.

That could be because the 500 block of State Street is a “very sensitive” area on weekend nights, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, who also sits on the city’s Alcohol License Review Committee.

“I would find myself hard-pressed to support the proposal as it is now,” Verveer said, noting Koi Sushi — a restaurant just a few buildings down from the upcoming Taco Bell — was recently denied a liquor license, after owners were reluctant to negotiate conditions with the city.

However, Koi Sushi later reapplied for and was granted a beer and wine license. They also agreed to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.

Verveer said it’s likely the ALRC would hold Taco Bell to the same standards as Koi Sushi — allowing only beer and wine to be served, as opposed to hard liquor, and capping alcohol sales before midnight.

The State Street location will be open seven days a week, until 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. State law permits businesses to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. on weekends.

City officials will review the proposal at an Oct. 31 meeting. 

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