Hundreds of people walked in the door during the opening hour of the first Taco Bell restaurant in Helsinki on November 8, 2017. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

McDonalds, Burger King and now Taco Bell are competing with homegrown Hesburger in the fast food marketplace. Are there really enough folks in Finland who want the American version of Mexican food? Apparently so.  At the opening pre-party of Taco Bell in Finland on Wednesday afternoon, I spoke to the Taco Bell Corporation Brand Implementation Coach Bachir Rezagui. He said that the market research they carried out last year in Helsinki showed a great enthusiasm from local consumers for the food. Maybe because of history with the big neighbor, the former Soviet Union, Finns have always liked American cars, motorbikes, food and films, so to be associated with the West rather than looking East.

Taco Bell’s Brand Implementation Coach Bachir Rezagui. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Rezagui directly supervises and monitors seven European Taco Bell franchises and is one of those responsible for bringing Taco Bell to Finland. The Taco Bell outlets are owned by Restel Oy. one of Finland’s largest restaurant owners with over 200 countrywide including Rax Buffet, Burger King, O’Learys, Hemingway’s, and Martina to name a few. Being part of such a large organization allows Taco Bell to easily get ingredients from Finland and a first in the Taco Bell world, Helsinki will be the first to sell local Pulled Oats as a vegetarian option.

The premises extend to the Bakers bar and restaurant complex. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The Nachos to take away were going like hot cakes from the outside stall, set up for the pre-opening party, and not just because they were free. A group of Erasmus students together with a Finnish girl said that they were good and would be happy to come back for more. In the queue to get into the restaurant a couple of teenage Finns appeared to be fans after their first Nacho and a Finnish man in his 30’s said it brought back happy memories of traveling in the United States.  The attraction appeared to be reasonably priced food and being able to watch the kitchen staff make your order.  So, the queues were predominantly teenagers and young folks — the new Taco fan base.

The outside stalls attracted hundreds of people to get free nachos. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

About 350 people went through the restaurant door in the first hour and together with the outside stall, Taco Bell was hoping to serve 1,500 before closing at eight o’clock that evening. Bachir hoped they wouldn’t run out of food. It was unusual for the organization to open more than one restaurant at a time but here in the capital region, they are opening three at once.

Opening doors on November 9th at Kalevankatu 2, in central Helsinki, 16th in Sello shopping center, Espoo, and on 23rd in Iso Omena, Espoo. Love it or hate it but good news for Taco fans! Now it is possible to ring the changes instead of just opting for a burger and French fries.

Here’s your free taco, sir. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

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