At 78, Del Taco founder can still bring it

Go ahead, call Ed Hackbarth. But if you do, keep in mind that you have one minute to explain why you’ve got him on the phone.

It’s not that he’s uninterested in what you have to say. It’s just that, at 78, the man who founded Del Taco still has a passion – working at fast food restaurants – and your call is probably keeping him from doing it.

“I love what I do,” Hackbarth says. “The customers make me so happy.”

Fast food customers have been making him happy for some time.

In 1954, Hackbarth, an Air Force veteran, got a job managing Bell’s Hot Dog, a San Bernardino restaurant co-owned by Glen Bell, who went on to found Taco Bell. By 1961 Hackbarth was on his own, founding Casa del Taco (“House of the Taco”) in the tiny desert town of Yermo. By 1964 he’d taken on a business partner, David Jameson, and they soon started franchising.

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