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The World's First Taco Bell Will Be Saved And It's Taking A Road Trip

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The world's first Taco Bell will be saved from the wrecking ball, and the company plans to move the historic building down to their headquarters.

Back in January, passionate Gordita-lovers were dismayed to hear that the building that housed the original Taco Bell at 7112 Firestone Boulevard in Downey was likely slated for demolition. Thankfully, when execs at Taco Bell heard of the first restaurant's potential fate, they stepped in and will now be moving the entire building 45-miles down the road to company headquarters in Irvine, reports The OC Register. On Thursday at 10:30 p.m., the 400-square-foot mission style structure built by founder Glen Bell—now dubbed “Numero Uno”—will travel south of the L.A. county border to Orange County where it will be preserved.

“This is arguably the most important restaurant in our company’s history,” Taco Bell Chief executive Brian Niccol told the Register. “When we heard about the chance of it being demolished, we had to step in. We owe that to our fans; we owe that to Glen Bell.”

The original Taco Bell was dreamed up by Glen as a walkup stand, which included a village with shops, live music, and fire pits, according to L.A. Magazine. Like many other of the early locations, the building was designed with slump stone, arches and tan brick to resemble an adobe house and give it the feel of an authentic taco stand. After the chain left the location in 1986, several other taquerias have occupied the structure up until the most recent one closed in December and the building owners announced plans to clear the lot.

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That's when the Long Beach-based We Are The Next preservation group and the Downey Conservancy reached out to Taco Bell with plans to save the structure. The company has remained relatively quiet on the issue—apart from launching a #SaveTacoBell campaign—but were working on a plan behind the scenes.

The building has already been hoisted up from it's foundation and like LACMA's Levitated Mass sculpture and the Endeavour—will slowly make it's way down the road. During the four or five hour trip, the building will pass through Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, La Palma, Buena Park, Anaheim, Orange and Tustin. And for those who can't make it in person, fans can watch the journey live on a webcam. According to a statement from Taco Bell, the trip should be a spectacle: “We’re lighting this thing like the Fourth of July.”

Exactly what the company will do with the OG building remains to be seen. Though, according to Marisa Thalberg, chief brand engagement officer for Taco Bell, the company plans to look to fans to help them decide what to do with the building. She tells the Register, “This isn’t a decision that should be made in a boardroom, but a social experience that can allow our biggest fans to truly be a part of Taco Bell history.”