Taco Charley Trademark (filed 1976, expired 1998) 

Taco Charley (c.1977 – 1982) was a short-lived, but long-missed, California-based fast-food chain. Though their food was similar to (but even less authentic than) Taco Bell’s, nobody held it against them: the chain somehow had a good vibe (helped, no doubt, by good food/reasonable prices). They also confounded expectation by blending cross-genre ingredients, such as offering taco fixin’s served in a hamburger bun. Fast-food aficionados note that they introduced “soft tacos” (flour tortillas) to the US fast-food palette, offering a deep-fried, crunchy flour taco (“taco lite”, IIRC) that was the bomb.

In short, they were like an upscale Taco Bell … (like Del Taco in So Cal) making the real Taco Bell look bad!

So in a few short years, once TC had financially weakened itself after building up its properties (they usually built, not repurposed existing structures) TB swooped in and borged them. (In fairness, this was reportedly because behind the scenes, Pepsico had bought out both companies.) Shortly thereafter, the world experienced the fast-food taco equivalent of a Flaming Moe when TB rolled out flour tortillas.

This editor should’ve checked Google Earth before misremembering the TB at W. Grand & Tele; the building’s overhanging roof and gumdrop-shaped windows are distinctive TC features (cf. Google Images → “Taco Charley”). However, considering TC was defunct by the mid-1980s, we’re not doing too bad …!

Links and References