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Taco Bell takes on London

The Mexican QSR chain took over Big Ben to celebrate its upcoming opening in the city.
Photograph courtesy of Taco Bell

London residents got a bit of a surprise earlier this week when they heard Big Ben’s chimes—courtesy of Taco Bell.

The Irvine, Calif.-based Mexican fast-food chain announced its introduction to the city by recreating the chimes, which have been missing from the city’s soundscape for the past year due to the famous clock’s reconstruction.

“Restoring Big Ben’s bell with our bell was the perfect way to introduce ourselves to London in a way only Taco Bell can,” Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s global chief brand officer, said in a statement.

Taco Bell, eager to expand outside the U.S. like its sister chains KFC and Pizza Hut, is opening its first unit in London’s Hammersmith district on Friday, with plans for three additional locations next month and into early next year. Taco Bell already has 28 locations in the U.K. and said that recent openings in the country have “received tremendous fanfare.”

To recreate the Westminster Chimes, Taco Bell worked with an audio engineer to compose the chimes out of Taco Bell’s iconic bell sound. The chimes were blasted through parametric speakers in the area surrounding Big Ben on Monday.

The company likened it to its 1996 April Fool’s prank in which it advertised that it had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell. The ad was a hoax, and the company contributed to the bell’s upkeep.

“We’ve had our sights set on London for quite some time, and as we continue growing internationally we’re excited to bring Taco Bell to one of the world’s largest cities, and one of our most requested markets,” Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International, said in a statement.

The London restaurants will feature open kitchens, artwork from local artists, complimentary wi-fi and charging outlets. The menu will include U.K.-specific items such as churros, Twisted Freezes and beer.

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