Yesterday’s Food And Retail by Grady Ellis (Editorial)
Yesterday’s Food and Retail by Carrollton resident Grady Ellis is an editorial series brought to you by The City Menus, LLC. The following piece is unedited and in its original state. In no way does it reflect the views or opinions of The City Menus, LLC or its additional contributors.
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Once upon a time in Carrollton, before Taco Bell arrived to town, there was a Mexican restaurant that is now legend to many in our area. Still missed 25 years later, and that my friends would be the one and only, Del Taco. Reported recently, they are about to make their official return to the West Georgia area, in Douglasville. Now let’s take a look back at a place that still holds fond memories for many in our area, and their comeback!
In 1964, the first Del Taco opened in Yermo, California. The chain found instant success and expanded to five locations (Fifth location would be the first with a drive thru.) From 1964 until the mid 1970s; Del Taco mainly were found throughout the Southwestern United States. By 1976, new ownership had taken over and an expansion spree would be underway. A man by the name of W.R. Grace would play a huge role in expanding the chain. In 1978 he set his sights on the Southeast, and by 1979 Del Taco made its debut in West Georgia in LaGrange, and in 1980 they arrived in Carrollton.
W.R. Grace was the owner of the Del Taco franchises in the area and aggressively expanded the Del Taco name, as Carrollton got two locations in 1980 at Maple Street, and Bankhead Highway. Del Taco was just the third fast-food chain in Carrollton in this time to have two restaurants, following McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. By 1982 the Maple Street location would become Krystal. When one looks at the building, you can clearly find some trappings outside of its original tenant. It didn’t slow Del Taco down though as our Bankhead location was hugely popular for locals and by the mid 1980s, locations would also open in Newnan, and in Douglasville.
By the end of the 1980s in Carrollton, Del Taco would receive a nearby neighbor, rival chain Taco Bell, who made their Carrollton debut in 1988. Although both held their own, by 1992 things were about to change. In 1992 W.R. Grace would sell the Del Taco locations to Taco Bell, ending a successful 12 year run for them. Some locations, like LaGrange would become a Taco Bell, while ours would sit empty before becoming a Schlotzsky’s Deli, then local restaurant Uncle Buck’s, before turning into Martin’s in 2000. The Douglasville location would become a Kenny Rogers Roasters before being expanded and been many different businesses, currently Batteries + Bulbs.
In the mid 21st Century, Del Taco once again set their eyes on Georgia and began to slowly return to our state. With a careful expansion they’ve done, it seems to be a success thus far. Many people fondly remember Del Taco and miss them terribly. Fortunately, they are about to make a return soon in Douglasville next door to Sherwin Williams on Highway 5. Del Taco is a favorite for many in our area and I am certain most are like me when I say this, but it’s time for Del Taco to return back to Carrollton! If this new location in Douglasville succeeds, then I’d look for it to become a reality. I could compare Del Taco in our area to a phoenix. The phoenix rises, as have that rising sun of Del Taco. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful new chapter for the longtime favorite, and it stays around for years and years to come!