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Taco Wars – Naugles Strikes Back,  80’s Mexican Chain Revival Underway

Taco Wars – Naugles Strikes Back, 80’s Mexican Chain Revival Underway

Taco Wars – Naugles Strikes Back

Food Blogger winning battle to bring the Naugles brand back… soon

If you are a fan, the mere mention of, “ Naugles comeback,” will make you stare at me like a junkyard dog who hasn’t eaten in a week. There is a good chance you will be able to order a cheese burrito or bun taco within a year.

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UPDATE: See my latest article about their job posting and possible location annoucement

Naugles Pop Up Event Sign

Pop Up Event Sign

 

If you  read the newspapers recently, Mexican Food Blogger Christian Ziebarth won a petition for the cancellation of the trademark of the Naugles brand from Del Taco. The court win opened the door for a full revival of the brand. I have some details of the comeback in this article.

Christian Zeibarth at Naugles Pop Up Event

Christian Zeibarth at Naugles Pop Up Event

The Taco Menace

If you are not familiar with Naugles, let me give you a quick history lesson. The brand started up in 1970, in Southern California, by a former Del Taco employee Dick Naugle.  Dick’s motto was “Prepare food fresh, Serve customer fast, Keep place clean!”

Naugles franchises quickly spread during the 70’s and 80’s, with a heavy presence in Southern California. The brand reached as far as Las Vegas and Missouri, as well as a few other states.

Naugles 80's Nostalgia Collage

Naugles 80’s Nostalgia Collage

Attack of the Del Taco

In 1988 the Naugles chain merged with Del Taco, which proceeded to close Naugles locations and rebrand them as Del Taco Stores. Naugles fans felt betrayed and Del Taco took on the role of Darth Taco, closing the last stores in 1995.

Loyal fans across the country found themselves deprived of their childhood favorites. Folks who stumbled out of the bar looking for a greasy Naugles burrito at 2am had few options. A rebellion was quietly brewing by loyal Naugles fans.

 

Naugles to Del Taco Conversion

The  Naugle’s Del Taco Conversion

Revenge of the Naugles

One of the people who took matters into their own hands was Christian Ziebarth. The Mexican Food blogger whose requests to Del Taco to revive the brand were rebuffed and ignored. After being ignored, he filed a request to cancel Del Taco’s claim on the Naugles brand.

The journey from defunct brand to a revived company started slowly with Christian organizing Naugles Pop-up events, prior to winning the lawsuit.  The pop-up events were massively successful, selling out quickly and proving use of the Naugles brand in the court case. 

OC Courthouse

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Naugles super fan meet up and taste-testing session. During this meeting, our admission was a block of cheese and an open mind. Ziebarth made cheese burritos, beef burritos, and bean cups.

For Ziebarth, this was an R&D session for his upcoming participation in Tacolandia; for the super fans in the room it was a bit of a homecoming. This event scratched an itch of desire, but eating several cheese burritos just left them wanting more.  For me, this was a chance to pop by Naugles cherry.

Naugles R&D Event

Naugles R&D Event

Here is a tease of some of the items that I tried:

Bean Cup

Naugles Bean and Cheese Cup

Naugles Bean and Cheese Cup

Cheese Burrito with red or green sauce

Naugles Cheese Burrito with Green Sauce 2

Naugles Cheese Burrito with Green Sauce 2

Naugles Cheese Burrito with red sauce

Naugles Cheese Burrito with red sauce

Bean and Cheese Burrito

Naugles Cheese Burrito Whole

Beef Burrito with Red Sauce

Naugles Beef Burrito

Naugles Beef Burrito

A New Hope

Your key question is when will Naugles open stores?

I recently interviewed Ziebarth about the next steps required to open Naugles stores, beyond the current pop-ups. “There are many different pieces that we are trying to nail down, all at once,” noted Christian. He indicated that they were scouting out several locations and there are some promising prospects.

When I pressed for a possible location, he would not budge. Although, he said one of the first locations will be in Orange county. Bad news is that we are at least one year from an opening. There are perhaps multiple locations on the plans in 2 years.

Naugles in SOCAL again map

Possible Nagules. opening in SoCal Soon?

What is holding them back? Money. He is currently securing investment from potential investors and a GoFundMe campaign. There are currently interested investors and it appears that things are moving quickly. 

Christian is dedicated to the Naugles super fans. “Memories are fresh. We are doing what we can to get people Naugles food right now.” Expect to see more pop-up events and participation in events like Tacolandia. 

Next step is potentially a gourmet food truck, although Christian noted that this is still under planning. A mobile cuisine could satisfy an immediate demand and  serve as a brand ambassador in regions have the most demand. 

Naugles Food Truck Possible

Naugles Food Truck Possible

Challenges ahead

Things are different when reviving an old chain. “When starting a restaurant from scratch, it is important to introduce  the new restaurant and hope they come back”, according to Zeibarth.  Although Naugles already has fans, “anywhere we open, fans will be angry if the restaurant is not closer to them, wrong city, wrong state.”

I asked Christian for a message to the old fans and a message to potential new customers.

To the die Hard old fans:

“We are ramping up to satisfy you again.”

To potential new customers:

“We have gotten really good response from folks who never had Naugles food before and they love it.”

The December event was attended by a young family who was too young to have memories of Naugles. They loved the food and left with “permanent grins on their faces from loving the food.” Someone put on Instragram that their 7-year old said, “Why did they ever get rid of it? People need to bring this back again.” Informal testing by Tom’s Foodie blog confirms that this product could compete with Taco Bell, Del Taco and even Miguel’s Jr.

Check out the Naugles Website

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How you can help ensure a return of Naugles?

If you know serious investors, refer them to Christian. If you are a regular fan, you can contribute to this GoFundMe page. His goal is $200,000 to go towards opening the first restaurant locations.

Naugles Go FUnd me - Click on Link

Go Fund Me Page- Click on Picture for link

Stay subscribed to Tom’s Foodie Blog for updates including dates of pop-up events, food truck news, and restaurant opening news.

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.

81 comments

  1. Good article honey! I look forward to getting a cheese burrito with you when they open. My favorite quote was “Darth Taco.” LMAO

  2. Yesssss! I’ve been waiting for this since you posted up those sneak-peak pictures. Having never had Naugles myself, I’m actually really excited. My mom always laments the loss of the brand, having preferred them to Del Taco (which she despises), and would always talk about how tasty the food was. I’m definitely going to be going to one of their pop-up events!

  3. I would really love to have a Naugle’s Taco Salad and a Naugle Burger. I grew up in So. Cal and went to Naugle’s every time I could. I even worked there in HS fora while. I now live in Indiana so I would really appreciate if you could open one here.

    PS
    It is so much more affordable to open here than in California. Hint,hint.

  4. Would love to have one here in Phelan. Naugles was great.

  5. LOVE NAUGLES!!! It is where my husband and I met. I managed the West Main Street location in Barstow. I worked the swing shift. He was in the Army and would roll out of the field late and hit the drive thru. 30 years later we are married and have 6 children and 11 grandchildren!!! Our stories of how we met are all of NAUGLES. Would be AWESOME to visit a NAUGLES and bring back fond memories.

  6. I use to work in one in Aurora, Illinois in the 80’s when I use through high school.

    • That same spot used to be a Hardee’s too back in the day on Lake st in Aurora. Everyone from West Aurora High school would be there.

  7. Becky Ontiveros

    i really hope they bring one back to Victorville Ca can’t wait to have a green burrito

  8. I’m 39 now and remember eating Naugles 30+ years ago at their Park City, Illinois location just down the street from the now torn down Lakehurst Mall. Would love to see a comeback.

  9. Darren Loeffler

    This was our hangout as kids & teenagers before school, lunch, and late nights at the one in Perris, California. I’ve posted photos of Naugles in Perris over the years, and many of us miss this place!

    • Not only hung out there, worked there when Ray was the Manager 1984 or so, GOOD TIMES! Great food, Hi Kimi, Amber, Greg… Thanks, bring back the memories!

  10. Senior Naugle was there

  11. Wow bring back the early morning egg burrito. I remember getting up to drive to the beach with one of those at 430 in the morning awesome. Yummy. Go Nagles bring it back……home to SO . Cal

  12. Oh..I remember late night Green burritos run before heading home on late night out. .love the green sauce and beans just right…burgers with that bit of pepper yum….

  13. I remember so many visits to Naugles in El Toro, late at night. Really miss the Taco salad, it’ll be awesome to bring it back!

  14. Will they have the original french fries???? WOW!

  15. OMG! Naugles Combo Burrito with extra cheese was my main diet during my pregnancy in 1986. I would love to have at least one more of those burritos before I die!

  16. I’m just saying but del taco dtill uses the same recipes and stuff from naugles ,even our owner manuel says del taco/naugles and food prep says naugles

    • You may not have ever had the chance to try the original Naugles Brand. The taco meat was so much better as far as quality and taste. It had onions in It, but very finely chopped. It wasn’t as dry as Del Taco. The Nachos, the original ones, had a heaping mound of shredded cheddar cheese melted on top. The burritos and tacos had the same generous cheese portions. They had these big brownie fudge sundaes, delicious juicy burgers and the fries were always fresh, crispy and best tasting out there! Sadly, Del Taco didn’t use the Naugles recipes. I worked at Del Taco as a manager years ago, so I know for sure. Just wait, you’ll love Naugles!

  17. Now I’m drooling, best fast food ever.

  18. As you can see the food was loved everywhere! From burritos, tacos, fries, taco burgers, cheeseburgers..somehow even the soda tasted better. From the desert to the beach…2:00a.m. to 2p.m. Loved by everyone who ate there. Seriously, 2:00a.m. on Fri/Sat the line was 20-30 cars deep…and we waited! NO PROBLEM It was a bit more expensive than “the ones down the street”(literally… No cars in their drive thru) but we paid, NO PROBLEM. How was it that the hot sauce was even better. If I had the $ I would invest in a store…I know right where to put it…watch the $$$ flow.

  19. Bring one back to Las Vegas! I would love an Ortega Burger!!!

  20. We miss Naugles! Don’t forget us in Missouri! Was soooo good.

  21. I’m curious though. I grew up with the Naugles on the corner of Imperial and Santa Gertrudes in La Mirada. What about the recipes that Del Taco took over when they took over Naugles such as the Macho Combo and Macho Meat burritos and tacos? Does Del Taco have a legal right to the recipe as well as the names? I’m interested.

  22. That would be so cool to see Naugles back in California however myself being now an Oregon resident now like so many of my other ex Californians whom are now living in the state of Oregon we would love love love love love love love for you to consider bringing Naugles to Oregon

  23. This is awesome, now bring back Pup N Taco

  24. I was a big fan of Naugles in Covina. The breakfast burrito was a lifesaver when I was going to work at 3:30am. The closest thing I’ve found to Naugles Is the Del Taco in Barstow. They are not a franchisee and make their food the way Naugles and Del Taco used to do in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Tons of cheese!!!! Pure heaven for the ride to Vegas or home from the outlets on Main St.

  25. I was a big fan of Naugles in Covina. The breakfast burrito was a lifesaver when I was going to work at 3:30am. The closest thing I’ve found to Naugles Is the Del Taco in Barstow. They are not a franchisee and make their food the way Naugles and Del Taco used to do in the late 60’s, early 70’s. Tons of cheese!!!! Pure heaven for the ride to Vegas or home from the outlets. It’s on Main St.

  26. I also miss Pup n Taco.

  27. Think the old naugles building in Colton is now empty

  28. We grew up with Naugles in La Mirada. One of my favorite things was peeling back the shrink wrapped cellophane on the little plastic cup of hot sauce! Bring that back!!! Can’t wait! Looking forward to a Combo Burrito with extra cheese and green sauce!

  29. please at least put them back where they originally were and make millions happy…..then go from there to new places and new customers…..

  30. Gothard and edinger across from goldenwest college in HB ca. Many a late night there.

  31. Yes….we need a Naugles back in town ElCentro! California please and thank you so much. ….

  32. OMG I WOULD SO LOVE TO HAVE NAUGLES BACK AGAIN HERE IN MISSOURI….:-) WE EVEN LOVED THEIR HAMBURGERS!!! EXCITED PLEASE COME BACK SOON 😀

  33. My friends and I used to Eat at Naugles at least 3 times a week. Every thing on the menu was great tasting and very generous portions ! PLEASE bring back Naugles to Missouri !

  34. I want a Naugles restaurant in the city of Rialto. I remember when my mom would bring me a taco salad everyday that I was in the hospital it saved my life.:)plz,plz,plz

  35. Open one in Michigan! Any competition with Taco Bell and Del Taco is welcomed, and I think you’d do incredible business here!

  36. You, sirs and madams, have made me happy… This is a fine day and I can’t wait for the day I place my first order at the new but old spirited Naugles and rejoice in the heaven that is my youth! :)
    Fred

  37. I miss Naugles! I live right across the street from the old Naugles here in St. Louis County! Please come back!

  38. We used to have Naugle’s in Tampa. Please bring them back here ffs!

    No one remembers the “El Scorcho” sauce?

  39. Come to St. Louis, Naugles!

  40. I worked for Dick Naugle in Corona California back in 1965 under my maiden name Banks. He was a great boss. I worked at the ones in San Bernardino Ca, Riverside Ca, Redlands Ca and Victorville Ca. My husband was the manager of the one in Victorville for a while till the one in Apple Valley Ca one was built. I also worked for the one in Hesperian Ca . You can email me if you would like!

    • I loved naugles. Worked for them for many years and managed alot of them. Naugles could not compete with Del Taco back then but feel that with todays prices for burgers and tacos they very much compete with them. Alot of people would enjoy having them back into the fast food chain and there right there food is much better then what is out there. Come back Naugles alot of people are behind this and will help you with a comeback

  41. Yes! Bring it on, always loved it!

  42. I loved Nagle taco salad. Haven’t had a great one since they closed the location in Fenton, MO. Sure am happy you are keeping this alive.

  43. Blue Note Fan CoMo

    Macho Nacho Burritos…after we danced our heads off at the Note. Come back to Missouri…now SEC land!

  44. Ohh cheese burritos and Ortega burgers – miss them. But I now live in Arkansas not So Cal, would love for them to come here.

  45. MACHO NACHOS!!! NEED I SAY MORE

  46. My first job was at Naugles, please open up soon

  47. Please think of Missouri or Kansas. We used to have one close to where I lived and one close to where we hung out. Combo burrito with extra cheese and green sauce was the best after a night out!

  48. St. Louis misses Naugles dearly! From the real shredded cheddar Nachos to the Mexican Salads, the Big Delicious Beef Burritos to the Brownie Fudge Sundaes! We want all of it! Please make sure Christian sees this.

  49. Michelle Cheatham

    Don’t forget about us here in st. Louis!!! People still talk about naugles all the time and my husband came home like he won the lottery when there was news you may a open again!! I wish I could help financially but if you need any other help let us know!!!

  50. I will GLADLY contribute heartily to the GoFundMe campaign if Christian commits to bringing back Naugles’ delicious and iconic bean and cheese breakfast burritos, and can create something resembling Del Taco’s retired Macho Bacon and Egg burrito!

  51. The old Location in chino hills on pipeline ave is empty, re open there ☺

  52. What is all the fuss about? Naugles could not even compete with a fast food also-ran like Del Taco? Sayonora Naugles!

  53. Naugles lives. If you’re really craving Naugels.. Buns and Torts in Visalia, Ca all original Naugels recipes. Can’t use the name because of Del taco. Nephew I think,

  54. Naugles was my first job back in Mission Viejo, CA in the early 80’s. I grew up loving the food. Moved out to Riverside Couty and we had them there for just a while before the takeover. We would LOVE to host a store here in Murrieta, CA. Cant wait.

  55. So miss Naugles at Hamilton and Brookhurst in Huntington Beach. My three sons and I were there weekly in the 70’s and 80’s and still say “Dick Naugle says”. My bucket list is a combo burrito with extra cheese. We now live on Maui but would fly back for a combo!

  56. I despise Taco Bell as it turned it”s taco shells to cardboard and took away the original cheesarito. Their food has becoje so disgusting that I hope Naugles suceeds in making a comeback. At least Del Taco still was pretty good in comparison to TBell. They used real meat in their filling and the shells still taste like corn. Naugles took it to another level of munchi e goodness. Now there are few Del Tacos left in St. Louis and we have to go to family owned Mexican joints to get the good stuff. If you can afford it , it is 10 times better than TacoHell. Good luck to the Naugles Revival.

  57. All my life I’ve been hearing of naugles my mom my ex father in law. 6,months ago an old naugle cook came into the waff wafle house I work at n I know it’d be a hit in the stl

  58. Egg and bean burritos with green sauce! Heaven in a paper wrapper! I can only hope to one day have a Naugles near me again!

  59. Note that want you to donate, not invest, you do the math!

  60. I worked Naugles for many years and manage many of there restraunts. They were the best. They could compete with Del Taco prices anymore. In todays world there prices would now be competive I would love them to make a comeback. They would definately be a success.

  61. Victoria Smith

    I worked at the Naugles on Main street in Corona Ca in 1981. Would love to see Naugles come back.

  62. Naugles was my first job when I was in high school. We had awesome food, and an ever better customer base.

    Bring back great food!

  63. I remembered those good old days, particularly in ’86, broke and hungry where Naugles came to the rescue.

  64. I hope you bring Naugles back to Belleville Illinois.
    It was the best. Macho combination burrito, miss it so much!!

  65. I lived in So. Cal from 79 to 82 and my favorite was Naugles Wet Burrito’s. LOVED THEM!!!! When you open, I want to order from Pennsylvania and have some shipped in dry ice to me. Miss those goodies!

  66. I remember going to Naugles in Ogden, Utah in the 80’s….most visits were after leaving the bar at closing time (in a drunken stupor, which I am embarrassed about and would never do now in a million years) and going through the drive through and getting an egg burrito. I can’t count the times I did that and in most cases would wake up the next morning with a whopper of a headache and red sauce dried on my face….good ol’ Naugles,,,I miss you!!!!!!

  67. Over a year has passed and I’m just learning of this! I loved Naugles! The Macho Nachos! Macho Burritos! Cheese burritos! Breakfast burritos! OMG!

    I was so disappointed when Naugles was “co-branded” on Del Taco’s menu. I went there and ordered a Macho Burrito from the drive-thru and was so disappointed. When I asked the cashier where my Macho Burrito was (This was a tiny burrito-sliver in my bag! Not a Macho anything!!) she said, “Oh, Macho means “red sauce.” Doubly stupid, since green sauce was hotter anyway… guh

    Bring it back and I’ll let the world know… even now that I’m in Ohio

  68. Alexandros Martinez

    It would be really nice if they opened a Naugles in the South Bay area of California (Redondo Beach, Torrance, Gardena, etc.).

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