Wipe those tears, Taco Bell fans — no need to get Fire sauce near those eyes — as the chain has confirmed that it’ll open a new restaurant nearby to replace the soon-to-be demolished location across from Wrigley Field. The new Taco Bell should open by the end of the year at 920 W. Belmont Avenue, a restaurant spokesperson said. The restaurant is in the former Muscle Maker Grill space located less than a mile away from the Taco Bell at 1111 W. Addison Street.
Taco Bell has been interested in a replacement location near Belmont and Sheffield for about a year. The company was in talks to take over the space at 958 W. Belmont Avenue before Slice of Cheesie’s opened there.
The spokesperson said the new Taco Bell won’t serve booze like the company’s Cantina restaurants. However, besides the lack of spiked slushies, the new restaurant will offer much of the same cantina amenities including the chain’s most up-to-date layouts, sharable menu items, and digital menu boards. It’s classified as an “urban restaurant” unlike the Addison Street location which is an older design.
The chain’s aficionados in Chicago have long feared the day when the 24-year-old Wrigleyville location would close, a victim of ongoing development around the Friendly Confines. The Hotel Zachary, packed with new restaurants like Big Star, opened earlier this year right across the street. A three-story building that will house a Planet Granite climbing gym will be built on the Taco Bell site after excavators finish their jobs. Maybe it’s because suburbanites and out-of-state transplants are used to Taco Bells at strip malls or rest stops along the highway. Before the recent expansions, Taco Bells were a rarity within Chicago’s limits. Regardless, there’s a strange sentimentality surrounding the Wrigleyville Taco Bell. Maybe it’s that Cubs hat that hangs on the sign outside or because it’s a popular late-night stop after a night of drinking along Clark Street.
Maybe that’s why the owners of Nisei Lounge, a dive just south of Wrigley Field where malört drinkers gather, have decided to throw the Taco Bell a wake. There’s a Facebook event page set up much in the same vein as last year’s protest page that never happened. The wake’s scheduled for October 28. The following’s from the event’s description, complete with a shout out to El Burrito Mexicano, a restaurant at 936 W. Addison Street.
“Wrigleyville’s last bastion of burritos, gorditas, and good decision making is getting the wrecking ball in November. Though we’re Team Burrito Mexicano around here, we know greatness, and the Wrigleyville Taco Bell always had it, if not in the food or the service, but definitely in the people watching.”
The new location lies south of the Wrigleyville boundary, so it’s unclear if its patrons will still see the same high-quality people watching as Nisei described. But even though the Cubs are at home watching the playoffs, there’s a little good news for the neighborhood.
Stay tuned for updates.