The menu of fast-food offerings in Half Moon Bay continues to grow. The city’s first Taco Bell is moving into a vacant storefront nestled between Peet’s Coffee and New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay.
The new eatery is the latest among more than 70 Taco Bell restaurants owned and managed by Pleasanton company Dolan Foster Enterprises. The company, which owns Taco Bells in Pacifica and Santa Cruz, plans to open the Half Moon Bay branch next month.
“We just love Half Moon Bay, and we’ve looked for a spot over there for some time,” said co-owner Richard Low. “We thought this shopping center would be a great place to open up a restaurant.”
News of the forthcoming Taco Bell wasn’t taken so well at the other end of the shopping center, which sits at the northeast corner of highways 1 and 92. Martha Galindo, an employee and sister of the owners of the Happy Taco taquerías, said she was “upset” that a new fast-food franchise was moving in so close and selling many of the same foods offered at her restaurant. Taco Bell would certainly eat into her family’s business, she said.
“They’re going to sell enchiladas; we sell enchiladas. They sell tacos; we sell tacos … These people are selling the same things we sell,” she said. “It’s not fair.”
Happy Taco owners say they learned about the Taco Bell only this month. They say they complained to their landlord about having two Mexican restaurants in the same plaza, but that it made no difference.
The location has all the makings of success, said Low. It has good visibility, close proximity to the highway traffic, and lot of people regularly swinging by for groceries or coffee. The company has begun making renovations to convert the former liquor store into a kitchen and restaurant.
City planners have approved building permits for the Taco Bell but have not yet received any application for a business license.
The city already has a bevy of fast-food operations near that same spot, including a McDonald’s, Popeye’s Chicken and a Burger King that recently underwent a remodel. Some of those businesses faced a less hospitable welcome in Half Moon Bay. The most recent addition, Popeye’s, was rejected twice by the city’s Planning Commission before being approved by the City Council. The chicken eatery opened in 2007, three years after its owners first applyed for permits.
In contrast, the new Taco Bell owners say they’ve been impressed with the city’s process.
“They’ve been very professional and, at the same time, very terrific to work with,” Low said. “They’ve answered our questions and told us what we needed to do.”
The city’s Planning Department approved building plans in late April. City officials say they will grant Taco Bell a business license after the owners undergo inspections and pay the fees.