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Taco Bell Plans to Open Thousands Of New Locations & Become As Big As McDonald's

Could Taco Bell really overtake McDonald's? Looks like they're going to try.
FACT CHECKED BY Justine Goodman

Watch out Golden Arches, because it appears that the Bell tolls for thee! At the time of this writing, there are 7,815 Taco Bell locations operating in the United States, according to data company ScrapeHero. The chain has a foothold in all 50 States and Washington, D.C. Those are impressive numbers, to be sure, but Taco Bell still trails well behind McDonald's, which remains the most profitable fast-food chain in the nation.

Per ScrapeHero, there are currently 13,509 McDonald's restaurants in America, meaning it nearly doubles the footprint of Taco Bell. But that may be about to change, because according to reporting from Restaurant Business Online, the brass at Taco Bell have set their sights on expanding to be bigger than McD's in the coming years.

At an investor conference held on Tuesday, June 27, Chris Turner, the Chief Financial Officer of Taco Bell's parent company Yum! Brands, was quoted as saying: "We think there's going to be thousands more Taco Bells in the U.S." He also suggested there was no reason the chain could not double its unit count and then some, thereby reaching—and ultimately surpassing—the number of McDonald's locations in operation.

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A more immediately tangible goal is in-store sales growth, which Turner also spoke to. He specifically pointed to making a push to increase sales by as much as $1 million per location, via Taco Bell's more robust breakfast and lunch business, which would mean a huge increase in earnings system-wide.

The chain is also looking to expand beyond the borders of this country, and on a global level, Taco Bell is well behind McDonald's. There are about 1,000 Taco Bells overseas according to Restaurant Business, whereas McD's has some 38,000 restaurants, according to its own corporate site. That means approximately 24,490 overseas McDonald's stores compared to Taco Bell's rather underwhelming 1,000. But that may well be seen as an opportunity for the Mexican-themed chain to grow rather than to be overshadowed.

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The idea of Taco Bell overtaking the number of McDonald's stores hinges on one glaring assumption: Namely, that McDonald's has already reached something of a peak saturation point. But the burger chain could always grow as well, which would set the goal stated by Yum! Brands' execs ever-farther away. It also seemingly ignores the fact that Taco Bell and McDonald's aren't direct competitors within the fast food space, but as Restaurant Business stated, they do compete "to the extent that they're targeting consumers in need of a convenient meal."

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven
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