Interest heats up over city's first Taco Bell restaurant

The Taco Bell site on Linwood Ave. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Taco Bell site on Linwood Ave. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Excitement is building in Linwood as residents look forward to the city’s very first Taco Bell restaurant opening in the area.

Construction at the $1.3 million Mexican-inspired fast food restaurant site near Eastgate Shopping Centre started last month and it is expected to open later this year.

Linwood resident Simon Fisher, who was walking to Subway with his son Shane, shared his excitement over the addition.

Linwood resident Simon Fisher and his son Shane. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Linwood resident Simon Fisher and his son Shane. Photo: Geoff Sloan
He says he could not wait to start tucking into their fresh tacos, salads and desserts.

“It’s great - I’ve always wanted a Taco Bell in Christchurch. I used to live in Australia and we had lots of Taco Bells.”

New Brighton resident Linda Rowlinson, who was waiting for a bus outside Eastgate, regularly visits the area. She likes Mexican food and is looking forward to having a new option in Linwood.

“I think it’s great. I’m up here shopping all the time. I live in New Brighton and there’s nothing there so we’ve got to come up here,” she said.

She believes the area has been targeted by fast food outlets but is not concerned because “people should have a variety.”

Jacob Chatterton, of Linwood, liked the prospect of getting a job at the restaurant more than eating the food.

Jacob Chatterton. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Jacob Chatterton. Photo: Geoff Sloan
“I’ve never had Taco Bell. But if I don’t have a job by then, I’ll definitely apply to work there.

“I think everyone around here will like it more, and it means less people at McDonald’s and KFC. The only thing healthy for a takeaway here is the Subway.”

But Taco Bell's proximity to several other food outlets has caused some concern. It will join a group of restaurants within 200m of Linwood Avenue School that includes KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King and Domino’s pizza, with other options inside Eastgate Mall.

Said principal Gretchen Smith: “For us as a school, we have constant temptation at the gate, fuelled by the power of the brand, and the aroma of fast food wafting over the school on a daily basis, which can be appetising or nauseating.”

The school was not consulted over the development as the area is a commercial zone.

Starting this year, the school will supply lunch every day, as part of the Ministry of Education’s “lunch in school” programme, to help pupils meet their nutritional needs.

“The big brands that target this area will, of course, say that they are just meeting the demands of the local community and that they offer healthy alternatives such as salad and water, or that they give back to the community.”

The Linwood Taco Bell will be the third restaurant in New Zealand after two other outlets opened in Auckland last year.

It is best known for its tacos, burritos, quesadillas and frozen margaritas.

The outlet is owned by Restaurant Brands, which has rights to brands in New Zealand including KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl’s Jr and Starbucks.

It is not the first time concerns over the proliferation of fast food restaurants in Linwood has been raised. In 2016, a petition presented to Christchurch City Council wanted to ban fast food restaurants within 800m of schools.

But residents have yet to see action, with the city council saying it was unable to change the District Plan to regulate fast food until this year.

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