Please add a Taco Bell to UMN’s fast-food culture

Tiana Meador

Millenials and Gen Z customers are quite possibly the most lucrative group of people to target with a way to get quick, cheap, and easy food- especially on a fast-paced, short-of-time campus.

Which leads me to the question: We have McDonald’s, Jamba Juice, Chipotle, Noodles & Co., Punch,  Erberts and Gerberts, Domino’s, Jimmy Johns, Subway, Einstein’s Bagels, D.P. Dough, Canes, Chik-Fil-A, Panda Express, Bruegger’s Bagels, Caribou and Starbucks, but amongst all of these, we lack a Taco Bell… why? The ongoing rumors of a TBell opening up on 4th and 13th is very representational of what students crave, however, we have yet to see one go up.

Students who crave the Bell are left to take a 10 minute drive to The Quarry, race miles down University Ave towards St. Paul, or take a 20 minute walk from The Carlson School of Management, across hwy. 94, through the wonderful area that is Cedar-Riverside. Hey Taco Bell, news flash! Nobody wants to do that when they’re craving some fast food after a night out in Dinkytown, so they will just wander over to your fellow competitor, McDonalds.

Taco Bell is missing out on a financial opportunity, and the ability to introduce their chain to the 12 percent of the student body who is international, and may not have ever been exposed to the chain.

According to Eater, “[It will cost] $1,200,000: The average start up and construction costs to build a new Taco Bell. Could be as high as $2.5 million.”

However, the old Pour House building is a prime location, which could slice costs. Furthermore, according to Eater, “$1,400,000 is the yearly sales of an average Taco Bell,” which when placed on a campus, a captive audience full of hungry college students and late-night drunk food cravings, their sales, would be anything but average.”

Considering that there are two franchises within three miles of each other, there has to be a franchisee in the area. Why miss the chance to capitalize on such a pivotal audience?

According to Business Insider, “Taco Bell’s franchisee startup costs are similar to those of McDonald’s, which requires an initial investment of between $1 million and $2.2 million. Subway, by comparison, is far less expensive, costing between $105,800 and $393,600, according to the company.”

So in other words, us Taco-Bell craving students are getting the short end of the stick because there are some cheap franchisee owners in the area. Or, they did not choose the best locations to make a profit! We want CrunchWrap Supremes! Baja Blast Freezes!

Maybe its way less of a lucrative opportunity than I believe. But I know sales when I see it- and when I can barely get in to any fast food place on campus during game days or nights out, I’m pretty sure that shouts “Cha-Ching!” to a franchisee.

Take Charles Watson, vice president of franchise development for Tropical Smoothie Café (a competitor of Jamba Juice), who recently, implemented six locations on college campuses, “I know with my college experience, there were a couple food and beverage places that are near and dear to my heart because of my experience in college. It’s a great time in your life. The ability to get a lot of brand affinity by being on the campus and being in that special part of someone’s life [is a smart move].”

Furthermore, let’s not forget- every college student is short of money. Hiring and recruiting a new workforce for this location would not be hard to do. With dining opportunities all over the campus, the general population is acclimated with working in the food industry.

Just some food for thought, Taco Bell. In the meantime, I’ll walk to McDonald’s.