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Furman to open Taco Bell Tower in iconic landmark

Taco Bell Tower at Furman University. April 1, 2024.

Last updated March 28, 2024

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

Furman University announced today, April 1, that it will soon open a taco stand on the ground floor of the campus’s iconic Bell Tower. The stand will be called Taco Bell Tower.

“Frankly, I don’t know why we didn’t think of this sooner,” Furman President Elizabeth Davis said. “Who doesn’t love tacos? We’re gonna put smiles on a lotta faces, that’s for sure.”

Davis, wearing a hard hat and steel-toed boots, spoke from the Bell Tower where workers were busy installing a walk-up window and making electrical and plumbing upgrades for a commercial kitchen. Saws and jackhammers roared and buzzed in the background, updating the Italianate architecture dedicated in 1965; it is a replica of the 1854 tower that stood on the former Furman campus in downtown Greenville, before tacos were introduced to the area.

Fake logo that reads Taco Bell Tower

Taco Bell Tower, established April Fool’s Day, 2024.

Davis said the idea for a taco stand came to her on a recent visit to Waco, Texas, where she once worked as a professor and provost. “Taco stands are everywhere in Texas. It’s part of the culture there, and it’s spreading across the nation, thank goodness,” Davis said.

Davis and husband Charles Davis were at their favorite taco stand tucking into a basket of barbacoa and al pastor when Joanna and Chip Gaines, the TV personalities known for renovating houses around the area, walked up. The couples got to talking about food and remodeling when, Davis said, “a bell went off,” and Taco Bell Tower was born.

The Board of Trustees approved the plan, faculty cast a unanimous vote of endorsement and representatives from Furman’s four institutes met to hash out details. Vegetables for Taco Bell Tower will come from the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities’ organic garden. The Institute for the Advancement of Community Health is busy creating healthy taco recipes, “as long as they taste good,” Davis said. The Riley Institute is working on a bipartisan discussion of the merits of tacos. And The Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship said they will hold a special taco pitch competition where they will “innovate the heck outta some tacos.”

Students will have a chance to learn the fast-casual restaurant business first-hand, adding value to their already valuable Furman degree.

Taco Bell Tower will be a boon for new academic offerings, said Beth Pontari, interim vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Taco Bell Tower is what The Furman Advantage is all about. It’s engaged learning at its best, a hot bed of sociology, anthropology, business, economics research and internships, and we’re working on a study away,” she said while designing BOGO coupons on her laptop. “We’ll have a new data analytics class in the fall called ‘Tallying Tacos.’ This venture is going to set Furman apart in higher education.”

The Furman Bell Tower at night with purple lights and a face Taco Bell Tower logo.

Taco Bell Tower will be open late during finals week.

The stand will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with extended hours during finals and commencement. Customers can expect regular promotions, including free tacos to whomever brings in Blitz, the Wofford University mascot.

The music department has been busy working on a theme song for Taco Bell Tower, riffing on the alma mater.  A sneak peek showed that “A mountain river laves her feet” will become “Salsa on tacos can’t be beat.” They’ve also created a distinguished “dong” sound that will peal from the tower and at the end of the fight song. Admissions is including TBT on their prospective student tours.

Not everyone was happy about the Taco Bell Tower concept. SCDOT will start next month creating a new exit off Poinsett Highway to funnel business to the venture. Neighbors have been vocal about the change in traffic patterns.

“Wait ’til they have one of our tacos,” Davis said.

This story first ran on April Fools’ Day, 2024. Several tacos were consumed during the making of this content.

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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy