Saturday, August 16, 2008

Del Taco


Del Taco is a staple in the southwest, and more than once attempted to gain the
national exposure of Taco Bell. Unfortunately, this did not seem to work out so well for the company, which has retracted completely to its core market with a few exceptions. Today, the only Del Taco remaining in Georgia is on St. Simons Island, which as of recent still looks exactly the same as its initial entry into Georgia.


Del Taco's grand entry into Georgia came in 1980 where it opened many, many locations across the state. While it was initially quite successful, its fortunes began to wane across the state by the end of the 1980's. In 1992, after only 12 years, every single Del Taco closed with exception to St Simons, meaning lots of vacant restaurants and an end to an era where Georgians were offered an alternative to Taco Bell for fast-food Mexican.


Alas! Del Taco wasn't through with the Peach State yet! In 1995, it came back but this time with a different logo and all new locations. The new locations were almost all joint locations with Mrs. Winner's, which to those not from Georgia is a local chicken restaurant. The only free-standing one to knowledge was in the Food Court at North Point Mall, which actually may have been there longer. Unfortunately, this new concept of two in one lasted even less long than the previous, and the locations all fell into poor management by the end of the decade. By late 2001, Del Taco was removed from all the Mrs. Winner's restaurants that it shared, now all just Mrs. Winner's.


Today, unless you're visiting St. Simons Island, Del Taco is not on the menu in Georgia. Nevertheless, a few of its scars remain including this notable one in the photos here in Cedartown, GA. Until recently, this location looked like it had just closed despite being closed over a decade. In fact, the sign continued to read "Closed. Thanks For 12 Great Years" with absolutely no vandalism or missing letters for at least a decade. Most of the others have been converted to other uses or demolished.

17 comments:

  1. Aaaaah, Del Taco. We used to eat at the one at Sprayberry all the time. My family always preferred it to the Taco Bell down the street. I had heard rumors that there was some sort of drug bust at that particular location...regardless of that, I think the Sprayberry location closed before the rest of them in Atlanta. It looked just like the pictures of the one you show, not surprisingly.

    The one at Sprayberry still stood last I checked, but it has been through at least 2 ownership changes (both soul food/diner type places) and I believe is currently vacant. There are no obvious details left from the Del Taco days, though, outside of the physical footprint of the building.

    Thanks again for your posts, JT.

    Matt

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  2. Yep, ate at that Del Taco all the time right across the street from Food Giant. We also used to eat at the one over at 41 & Bells Ferry. We liked the manager of that one over there and he changed to Sandy Plains (so did we). I do remember some scandal with that place and how that closed shortly after. One of the former restaurants there was a short-lived Morrison's Cafeteria non-cafeteria concept. I think I really need to create a list of former Del Taco locations in Georgia and define which era.

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  3. I went to school in Cedartown, GA for grades 1-11 and remember the Del Taco being there. I remember being amazed at how well the letters on the sign that you mentioned held up for so long. The I'm Game arcade (closed September 28, 1985) was a hangout in the shopping center behind the Del Taco and people would leave to get food there and Wendy's because of the convenience. Big Star was there and so was Eckerd and Radio Shack. That shopping center went down in the 1990s.

    That Del Taco was amazingly preserved in the state it was in when it closed. Another restaurant in town, the old Petros Pizza, was still intact with its sign in place until last year, I believe.

    I took a year of Spanish in high school (my 11th grade year in 1984-1985) and the subject of Del Taco came up the first week of class. The Spanish teacher told us it meant "Of The Taco" and said, "You tell me what it means."

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  4. I always preferred Del Taco to Taco Bell, and in those days, Del Taco had a bigger selection than Taco Bell. Taco Bell did not offer a Taco Supreme with sour cream and tomato until around the time the DT's starting shutting down. The locations I frequented the most were Fort Oglethorpe, Calhoun and Carrollton, and I have been to the Cedartown DT in its day.

    Del Taco had its "el scorcho" bar with pepperes and salsa plus you could order plates with refried beans and rice. The Del Taco revival was poorly executed and lacked a lot of menu favorites.
    Oddly, DT offered fries with its revival stores in Mrs. Winners and the food court location in Gwinnett Place.

    I believe Krystal franchised most of the northwest Georgia locations. The Maple Street DT in Carrollton became a Krystal while the Bankhead location lasted until the 89-90 closures. Bankhead became a Schlotzsky's Deli which has since closed.

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  5. Del Taco was one of the early fast food places that came to Fayetteville, GA where I grew up. McDonald's came in the early 80s, followed by Pizza Hut and Del Taco. There were on Glynn St. within a mile of each other. I always thought Del Taco was better than Taco Bell, and I liked their little hamburgers, too. A good friend worked an after-school job at Del Taco for a while, so I was always there getting free food and drinks.

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  6. Grace over expanded in 1979. I Worked at one in Jesup, GA That was only open for one year. I knew it was doomed when I gave Bubba his order in his over jacked up ford pickup truck, only to have him back up and ask: "am I supposed to eat the cardboard this thang's wrapped up in?" (burrito).

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  7. Is this the place that had 'green sauce' or 'red sauce' for tacos in the 1970? I used to eat at the one on N. Druid Hills across the street from Toco Hills shopping center. Never had Taco Bell until leaving ATL.

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  8. I like your site a lot. I used to go to Del Taco, get the chicken chimichanga plate with beans and rice. Then hit the bar for some el scorcho to go with my chips. The chimichanga had a great green salsa. It was better than in places like El Azteca, Taxco, etc. Man, I miss them. Here's other oldies but Atlanta goodies: Mighty Casey's, D'Lites, Round the Corner.

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  9. Actually... this was the ONLY Del Taco left in Georgia until about two years ago which is when this one closed. It was a SAD SAD day for us on the island as this was my favorite place to go :(

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  10. I travel from North Ga. to Nashville. I find any reason to do so because Capt. D's now owns Del Taco there and in nearby smyrna Tn. Love the flavor and it still tastes just like Barstow, Ca. all meat green chile burritos. PLEASE come back to North Ga. Del Taco

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  11. Seeing those pictures brings back alot of memories. I used to love Del Taco back in the day. My famiy used to go to the Hwy 78 location in Stone Mountain right in front of Kroger.

    I remember the place sitting vacant for years until it was torn down, and a auto repair center sits in its place.

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  12. Hey...while you're talking about restaurants here, you really should do a piece about Mick's. Now that was a true Atlanta institution.

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  13. I grew up in Marietta and we had at least three Del Taco locations that I can remember. There was the one at Bellsferry and 41, Sprayberry, and Roswell Road close to Highway 41.

    In the 90s, I spent some time in central Georgia and found a Del Taco in Americus,GA. Man, was I suprised. I did enjoy getting the 5-lawyer dip again. I don't know if that place is still there or not.

    I live in Douglas County now, and there is a sign at Fairburn Road (Hwy 92) and I-20 that says there is a Del Taco coming soon.

    Hopefully, DT is making a come back to Georgia.

    Thanks,
    Ken

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  14. I used to eat at Del Taco on US441 outside of Commerce. Their food beat TB's hands down. I would stop by GA square mall just to get Del Taco. That was one of the last to close in the state (closed 2004 or so). They had a neat little thing called "Combo Cup with chips" which was enchilada sauce over a layer of beans and a layer of meat with shredded cheddar cheese. Good stuff!

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  15. We live in TN but are originally from CA. My hubby and me would always seek out Del Taco when on a trip to Atlanta. It is hard to believe that they couldn't make it here but I guess everyone's taste buds are different. Taco Bell just has a nasty taste to us and they don't have those awesome chili cheese fries and hot green burritos that I love so much from Del Taco.
    I wish that Tennessee could have Del Taco and Shakey's Pizza. YUM! It also would be nice if Jack in the Box would go statewide.

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  16. We got Del Taco in Nashville a couple of years ago. It was attached to a Captain D's, and closed in about 5 minutes. It was in a bad area, and there was only one! They didn't even get a chance! I am from both Roswell, GA, and Yorba Linda, CA, so I am VERY familiar with Del Taco. As a child of the 80's, I remember the one across from the Roswell Mall on Alpharetta Hwy. And I spent my teen years in OC, CA continuing to enjoy Del Taco. Now in Nashville, I am sad to have only been teased with one location that didn't even make it 6 months!

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  17. Deltaco, was the best! I would love for it to come back like it was.

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