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Taco Bell Corp. Weighs Move Out of Irvine

September 15, 1993|GREG JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Taco Bell Corp. is weighing the possibility of moving from Irvine when its corporate headquarters lease expires in late 1996, company officials said Tuesday.

Taco Bell, which has 800 corporate employees at its Von Karman Avenue office building, is "considering a variety of options, including remaining in Irvine," Taco Bell spokeswoman Janis Smith said. "Our lease expires in November, 1996, but no decision has been made, . . . and it's too early to speculate."

Taco Bell, which moved into its gleaming headquarters building in 1986, has retained a handful of consultants, including Los Angeles-based Cushman Realty Corp., to help determine its future real estate needs.

Last month, executives at Taco Bell, a subsidiary of soft-drink giant Pepsico Inc., told Irvine officials that the company was "going to analyze all options available to them," Irvine City Manager Paul O. Brady Jr. said Tuesday. "My best information is that they would like to stay where they are or at least in Irvine."

Brady contacted Taco Bell executives last month, he said, "knowing that the lease does come up, to see what they're up to."

Taco Bell's long-term real estate planning makes sense given the nation's economic malaise, relocation experts said.

"It's good business even if the answer is 'stay where you are,' " said R. Darlene Firestone, president of Premier Relocation Services in Irvine. "You have to evaluate business decisions in today's economic climate."

Taco Bell executives have not set a date for deciding what to do when their lease expires, Smith said. She would not speculate on what cities Taco Bell might consider should the company decide to relocate.

Taco Bell, with more than 3,900 restaurants and 70,000 employees worldwide, reported $3.3 billion in sales last year.

Earlier this year, Taco Bell said about a dozen jobs would be transferred to Dallas as part of an unrelated consolidation of business functions handled by Pepsico.

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