Why is There No Taco Bell in Newfoundland?

With so many other international fast food restaurants setting up shop here over the years, where is there no Taco Bell in Newfoundland?

The History

If you’re new to the province or not old enough to remember, you may be surprised to find out that there was once a Taco Bell in Newfoundland! It was a Taco Bell Express location in the Avalon Mall’s Scotiabank Theatre. That theatre, relocated from a different area of the mall, opened in 1999 as Studio 12 at Backstage under the Empire Theatres banner. Check out this flyer promoting the theatre’s opening and the first Taco Bell in Newfoundland!

Empire Theatres Studio 12 St. John's
Image: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/36358

This Taco Bell Express had limited offerings and was subject to inflated theatre pricing. Still, Newfoundlanders had their first experience of Taco Bell.

What Happened to the Taco Bell at the Theatre?

The food offerings at Studio 12 changed in the early 2000s. Taco Bell Express and Pizza Hut Express, owned by the same parent company, were replaced by different restaurants. This was likely due to partnership agreements across the whole Empire Theatres chain, though perhaps the crunching of tacos was just too distracting to movie viewers. Taco Bell has not been back in Newfoundland since.

Perhaps the crunching of tacos was just too distracting to movie viewers. Click To Tweet

Taco Bell Express

Demand for a New Taco Bell

There is definitely a significant amount of demand for Taco Bell in St. Johns. In 2016, a petition garnered nearly 4,000 signatures in support of the chain making a return to Newfoundland. There are several Facebook groups and Reddit posts requesting Taco Bell’s return, too.



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Taco Bell is often known for its inexpensive eating options, even when compared to other fast food chains. This means that it is important for them to keep ingredient shipping costs low, and that can be difficult to do on an island. This theory is even more credible when you consider that Taco Bell is in every Canadian province except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. Still, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other fast food options in the province make it work.

The Chances of a Return

All hope is not lost. Taco Bell has recently announced a ten-year growth plan to expand to 600 stores in Canada. That’s more than three times the 180 that currently exist! Their announcement states that they are “looking to open new locations across Canada” with no specific provinces named. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing… time well tell!

The best bet we have in Newfoundland for now is to buy some Taco Bell seasoning and sauce online. It may hold our craving for a well, but we really want a Taco Bell to come to the rock soon!