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Industry Fast food
Fate Merged with Del Taco
Successor Del Taco
Founded Riverside, California, 1970
Founder Dick Naugle
Defunct 1995 (last locations in Nevada)
Headquarters Riverside, California
Number of locations
Area served
Southern California, Nevada St. Louis, Missouri and Orlando, Florida, Utah (list not complete), U.S
Products Mexican fast food
Slogan Prepare food fresh. Serve customer fast. Keep place clean!

Naugles was a Southern California fast-food Mexican restaurant chain that existed from 1970 to 1995.


  • History 1
  • Revival 2
  • In popular culture 3
  • References 4


Naugles was founded by former Del Taco partner Dick Naugle. The first Naugles restaurant was located at the southwest corner of Fourteenth St. and Brockton Ave. in Riverside, California (now a Del Taco). Dick's motto was "Prepare food fresh. Serve customer fast. Keep place clean!"

Harold Butler purchased Naugles in 1979 when the chain consisted of three restaurants. The chain was expanded by a system of non-exclusive franchises, which later was ruled unlawful by a federal court.[1] Butler built Naugles up to 225 restaurants by 1986, when he sold the chain to Collins Foods International.[2] Naugles merged with Del Taco in 1988 when businessman Aniwar Soliman purchase both companies at nearly the same time.[3][4] A few of the Naugles menu items, such as those with the "Macho" designation, found their way into the regular Del Taco menu. Also, the Naugles Taco Sandwich (Del Taco called it a "bun taco") can still be ordered from Del Taco even though it does not appear as an item listed on the menu.

Later in May 1989, Soliman announced that he was going to convert most of the 171 Naugles locations to Del Taco by the end of that summer.[5] By the time Soliman sold the integrated company in January 1990 to a four-member group of Del Taco managers led by President Wayne W. Armstrong, there were 59 Naugles left with 25 located in California and 34 located in Utah, Nevada, Missouri and Arizona with 290 Del Tacos in California plus a lone Del Taco in Arizona.[6] In August 1992, only 31 Naugles in the states of Utah, Nevada, Missouri, and Illinois remained with all the locations in California had been converted.[7]

In March 1994, Del Taco converted all seven remaining Naugles locations in the state of Nevada to the Del Taco brand. Del Taco claimed that the conversions led to a great increase in sales at those locations.[8] Seven month later, Del Taco announced it had completed converting all six remaining Naugles locations in the state of Utah in October 1994.[9] In December 1994, Del Taco announced that they have finished converting all four Naugles in the metropolitan St. Louis area.[10] According to the 1994 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the four Naugles locations in St. Louis were the last sites that were converted to Del Taco.[10]

The last four remaining Naugles locations, all in Nevada, closed in 1994-1995. In the Las Vegas area, 3 restaurants closed circa 1994/95. The last Naugles location, in Carson City Nevada, on Hwy 50 East, closed in 1995. Today that former Naugles location is a Chinese restaurant called China East.


In August 2006, blogger Christian Ziebarth posted a remembrance page on his year old Orange County Mexican Restaurants blog site on how he had missed the defunct Naugles restaurant chain and wanted Del Taco bring back some of the old but unique Naugles food items.[11][12] In a very short time, he received from comments from hundreds of other people who felt the same way. So much interest was being generated by his webpage that a Del Taco public relations staffer contacted Ziebarth to see how Del Taco could take advantage of this renewed interest.

On May 31, 2012, the Orange County Register reported that a group was attempting to revive the Naugles brand.[13] On July 9, 2013, the OC Weekly ran a similar story, with the author of the piece mentioning he had tried some Naugles taco sauce.[14]

On March 31, 2015, Christian Ziebarth won a judgment from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board,[15][16][17] allowing the restaurant to return to life as a new standalone spot in the Orange County community of Fountain Valley, California. In the years since he first applied to take up the Naugles trademark and menu (back in 2010), Ziebarth went so far as to re-create the menu from scratch, hosting pop-up dinners at various locations as a way to further gather ground support.[14]

Ziebarth and his backers decided to open a "test" kitchen to help shape the brand and on July 25, 2015, the Fountain Valley location had a "soft opening" to the public.[18] The current menu includes bean and cheese burritos, hard and soft-shelled tacos, cups of beans, drinks, and more. The Naugles location is at 18471 Mt. Langley Street in Fountain Valley.

Less than a week later, the restaurant had a hard time keeping up with demand and had to "close indefinitely" so that its owners could "pause and reboot" before determining their next plans as the result of this totally unexpected turn out.[19][20] By the end of the first week, it was determined that they needed to change their initial plans since the turnout was totally caught them by surprise. It is too early to tell if the initial success would continue to sustain the company or if this might be a flash in the pan since the company still needs to develop procedures and find a better location that could handle the crowds without breaking their bank account and not upsetting their neighbors by the increase in traffic.[21][19]

In popular culture

In the original Naugles TV commercials, the character of Señor Naugles was played by character actor Roger C. Carmel and comedian Avery Schreiber. Hispanic actors, offered the role, refused to take part in the advertisements due the stereotyped image presented of Mexicans (the source for this claim cannot be found).[22]


  1. ^ Foss, Nicolai J.; Mahnke, Volker (2000). Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research. Oxford University Press. p. 235.  
  2. ^ Granelli, James S. (1986-04-18). "Collins President to Lead Rescue Effort Naugles' Losses Rise; Firm Makes Several Big Changes".  
  3. ^ Galante, Mary Ann (1988-03-30). "Newport Man Completes Naugles, Del Taco Purchase".  
  4. ^ Galante, Mary Ann (1988-02-02). "Ganging Up on Taco Bell: Restaurateur Will Merge Del Taco, Naugles to Battle Industry Leader".  
  5. ^ Rowe, Jeff (May 17, 1989). "Adios to Naugles Fast-food chain to switch to Del Taco".   Link via ProQuest.
  6. ^ O'dell, John (January 5, 1990). "Del Taco/Naugles Inc. Acquired in Buyout".  
  7. ^ Reckard, E. Scott (August 18, 1992). "Fast-food competition heating up".   Link via ProQuest.
  8. ^ "Las Vegas Conversions Paying Off in Big Sales at Del Taco Restaurants".  
  9. ^ "Briefly".   Link via ProQuest.
  10. ^ a b Faust, Fred (December 5, 1994). "All Saints' Church Loses A Round to Insurance Firm".   Link via ProQuest.
  11. ^ Arellano, Gustavo (April 9, 2015). "How an OC Food Blogger Is Bringing Back Naugles by Beating Del Taco".  
  12. ^ Luna, Nancy (October 26, 2014). "Remember Naugles? Blogger fights Del Taco to revive defunct fast-food brand".  
  13. ^ Luna, Nancy (2012-05-31). "Is Naugles making a comeback?".  
  14. ^ a b Arellano, Gustavo (2013-08-09). "Naugles, Legendary SoCal Mexican Fast-Food Chain, is Trying to Make a Comeback, and We Have the Proof".  
  15. ^ Luna, Nancy (April 1, 2015). "Naugles comeback: Local food blogger wins trademark case against Del Taco".  
  16. ^ Slavick, Scott (June 1, 2015). "New life for Naugles? Del Taco dinged at TTAB: Mexican-themed restaurant chain loses mark to abandonment".  
  17. ^ "Christian M. Ziebarth v. Del Taco, LLC" (PDF). Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  
  18. ^ Sharon, Keith (July 31, 2015). "Fast Food: Naugles' return brings on waves of nostalgic eaters: Naugles -- which was born in Riverside -- has reopened in Orange County, much to the delight of patrons who remember it as the hang-out spot in the '70s and '80s.".  
  19. ^ a b Luna, Nancy (2015-08-05). "Where did Naugles go? Swamped by fans, the reborn fast-food brand plots limited hours, weekends-only service".  
  20. ^ Elliott, Farley (2015-08-04). "Naugles Remains Shuttered as Unending Lines Cripple Fledgling Restaurant". Eater LA. 
  21. ^ Elliott, Farley (August 5, 2015). "Just Like That, Naugles Returns With Weekend-Only Hours". Eater LA. 
  22. ^ Savan, Leslie (1994). The sponsored life: ads, TV, and American culture. Temple University Press. p. 241.  
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