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QSR: DEL TACO TURNS 50

Founder Ed Hackbarth opened the first Del Taco in Barstow, California, touting a Mexican-inspired menu of tacos, tostadas, cheeseburgers, and fries. And in celebrating the chain's 50th birthday, the brand's new leadership brought back three throwback menu items: the Bun Taco, made with seasoned beef and Cheddar cheese in a sesame seed bun; the Small Taco Salad; and the Orange Shake.
"We tapped into the nostalgia of the brand," says John Cappasola, Del Taco's chief brand officer. "We've got an off-menu following, and the Bun Taco has been a regularly ordered off-menu item for years. It was originally on the Del Taco menu."
It's not all old school at Del Taco, though. The brand's made efforts to propel its image forward with its "Unfreshing believable" campaign, showcasing its freshly grilled chicken, slow-cooked beans, and hand-grated Cheddar cheese.
"What's really allowed us to thrive is the original vision for the company; some things just haven't changed, and that's the thought of providing fresh food to order with convenient, fast service," says CEO Paul Murphy. "We've adapted that to bring the freshness front and center and moved to a quality and value position."
The freshness proposition is coupled with the brand's 2013 launch of the Buck & Under menu and this year's introduction of turkey as a protein option. "At 50 years old, you've got to get in shape, and now we have, and we're ready for the next 50 years," Murphy says.
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