|The Taco Boy restaurant on West Erie Avenue in Lorain, circa June 1969|
(Currently the home of Chapman's Food Mart)
However, by the time of the February 1970 "quick service" restaurant article, the building – located next door to the Pizza Hut – had a Taco Kid sign.
|Taco Kid restaurant on Oberlin Avenue circa Feb. 1970|
(currently the home of Exhale Hooka Lounge)
Back in the mid 1960s, tacos were growing in popularity thanks to the Taco Bell chain, and quickly becoming an American favorite. Consequently, other taco chains began to pop up.
One of them was located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with the name of – you guessed it – Taco Boy. An aggressive campaign to sign up Taco Boy franchisees was launched around May 1969. The parent company took care of site selection and building construction; all the franchisee had to do was come up with the $17,000 required investment.
Here's what the Taco Boy logo looked like (below).
Cartwright opened his first Pizza Hut in Toledo in 1967 and another in 1968. A third Toledo unit was under construction, with two more planned for – not surprisingly – Lorain.
Anyway, by March 1969, Cartwright had three successful Taco Boy restaurants open in Toledo, with outlets under construction at Bowling Green, Ann Arbor and 44 franchises signed up. His stores must have looked very appealing to Pizza Hut, because by July 1969, Pizza Hut bought Taco Boy and all of Cartwright’s Pizza Huts for $1.2 million.
So Lorain's Taco Boy on West Erie was part of this first wave of franchising.
I’m guessing that once Pizza Hut bought the chain, the company determined that there were too many other restaurants around the country with the name Taco Boy. Pizza Hut probably also noticed that Taco Bell was using its own 'Taco Boy' mascot.
(Click here for the link to this image)
And what did Cartwright do shortly after he sold his Pizza Huts and Taco Boys? He started another restaurant chain: Olde English Fish ’n Chips!
So that’s why it makes sense that Lorain had a Taco Kid, a Pizza Hut and an Olde English Fish ’n Chips – all in a row on Oberlin Avenue.
Unfortunately, both of Lorain’s original taco restaurants disappeared from the city directories by the time of the 1971 edition. I guess they were just a little ahead of their time.