|This very taco wrapper is now framed and hanging in my living room.
If there's one broken chain that comes close to usurping G.D. Ritzy's status as my favorite, it's probably Taco Tico. Thanks in part to its dominance in Central Kentucky during my childhood there, Taco Tico remains my favorite fast food taco chain. I grew up in a time when there were just as many Taco Tico locations nearby as there were Taco Bells. As a kid, who knew little of what was outside of Central Kentucky I thought of them as equals in terms of market share. (I was a weird kid.) In the mid nineties, most of the Taco Ticos in Lexington closed. A few soldiered on for a few years under the name Tacos Too, which I suspect was one franchisee’s strategy for avoiding paying franchise fees while still operating a very Taco Tico like business. Some of the Tacos Too locations were later converted to Popeye's, presumably when the franchisee wanted to try something new, or perhaps when they received a cease and desist letter from Taco Tico corporate.
|1483 Boardwalk, Lexington, KY
Lexington's last operating Taco Tico; the 1970s vintage pueblo style building has had a fresh coat of paint since I ate here last.
|Interior of the Lexington Taco Tico, a nicely maintained time capsule
Every time I’m back in Lexington, I make it a point to eat at the one remaining (and thriving!) Taco Tico in town. I did just that on my recent trip to Kentucky. I also ate at the Bluegrass State’s other Taco Tico, located in Louisville. While visiting a few of the other historical fast food sites in Lexington, I noticed that there were still a hell of a lot of old Taco Tico buildings still standing, some repurposed, some empty. With nothing better to do, I drove around the area and photographed every building I remember being a Taco Tico. I thought I’d use those photos to document what’s left of Taco Tico’s presence in and around Lexington, Kentucky. I doubt this is a complete or definitive list. If you know of any other old Taco Tico buildings in the area, or anywhere else for that matter, feel free to make me aware of them. Below, you'll find every building I photographed with a description of what I remember about them.
|172 Imperial Way, Nicholasville, Kentucky
Now nearly unrecognizable, this building was originally a Taco Tico. It was an outparcel in a shopping center that contained the nearest Walmart to where my family lived, so we'd often have dinner here before a mid-week Walmart run. I used to beg my parents for quarters so I could play the tabletop Pac Man game here. Like most Taco Ticos in the area, this one closed in the mid 90s, and sat empty for a few years, before turning into a Popeye's.