RIP Taco Bell

Taco Bell Cantina lives no más. 

Located at 2304 Hillsborough St., NC State’s very own Taco Bell Cantina closed on June 14 after operating since 2018.

Jeff Murison, President and CEO of the Hillsborough Street Community Service Corporation (HSCSC), said the exact reason for its shutdown is unclear.

“From my vantage point, it was always busy,” Murison told the Triangle Business Journal. “I don't think that there's anything about its volume of business that was an issue. I was told by the property owner that the lease ran out and the tenant decided not to renew.”

The Taco Bell Cantina was the only Taco Bell of its kind in North Carolina, offering alcohol and other unique menu items that could not be purchased from traditional Taco Bell locations. Beer, margaritas, “shareables” and “small plates” were all options that customers could choose from. 

Lauren Hoadley, who graduated in May with a degree in business administration, said she enjoyed the special menu items at the Taco Bell Cantina.

“My 21st birthday fell on a Wednesday, so that's where I had my first alcoholic drink,” Hoadley said. “It was a Baja Blast Freeze with rosé.”

Gabbie Zimmerman, a fourth-year studying graphic design, said the Taco Bell Cantina differed from other Taco Bell locations, as it featured indoor and outdoor seating with booths, barstools and flat-screen TVs. 

“Typically, I only use Taco Bell drive-thrus, so it was interesting being able to treat the Cantina like a sit-down restaurant,” Zimmerman said. “The location was always kept fairly clean, but it would get quite full during peak lunch and dinner times since there weren’t a lot of tables. I would say the experience was nicer than other Taco Bell restaurants that I have been to.”

Beyond a unique atmosphere, students also expressed sadness in remembering their past experiences and memories at the location. Zimmerman said the restaurant’s close proximity to campus made it treasured by students.

“It’s quite sad seeing that location go since it was very close to the design school on the main campus where the majority of my classes are,” Zimmerman said. “I’ve been stopping by that Taco Bell since freshman year when I lived at North Hall and it was an easy stop on the way back from classes for dinner. I will miss it.” 

Hoadley said she appreciates time spent with other students at the Taco Bell Cantina. 

“I always went [to Taco Bell Cantina] with the Video Game Development Club (VGDC) every Wednesday after meetings,” Hoadley said. “I remember having a lot of fun eating with everyone and talking about video game news and stuff happening in our lives. I think I can speak for all of the VGDC in saying that we all made lots of great memories there.” 

Though the Taco Bell on Hillsborough Street is gone, others aren’t too far away. The chain, which is the fourth-largest in America, has 10 locations in Raleigh, one of which is located on Western Boulevard. Hoadley said she regrets the loss of the Taco Bell Cantina.

We still have the Taco Bell on Western [Boulevard], but I think it’s really sad that we lost, in my opinion, one of the coolest restaurants near campus,” Hoadley said.