rantoul taco bell

Midwest Electric employee Jake Daniel works on the drive-thru window on a newly constructed Taco Bell on Wednesday in Rantoul.

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RANTOUL — The owner of a Chicago-based company said Rantoul’s new Taco Bell will open not long after Thanksgiving.

Nick Kallergis, owner of franchisee Buddy Bells Inc., said the restaurant will open in December, possibly the first week, on the village’s west side at 629 W. Champaign Ave.

Initially, only drive-thru service will be available because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Buddy Bells owns and operates 22 Taco Bells in Illinois, including several in Champaign-Urbana. Kallergis said there is some confusion because some counties aren’t allowing restaurant drive-thrus to remain open.

“We’re calling each individual county” to find out, he said, adding that Champaign County does allow drive-thrus to stay open.

Kallergis said the business will employ about 30 people, most of them part time.

Buddy Bells operated the building that housed the old Taco Bell restaurant in Rantoul. That closed last year after Taco Bell gave the company the option to upgrade it or build a new one. The new structure spans 2,200 square feet.

Kallergis said the business will be open for breakfast and likely remain open until midnight.

The restaurant will feature a new prototypical concept that was rolled out nationally.

“It has the latest equipment and technology,” Kallergis said. “There will be kiosks (for ordering), new exterior digital menu boards and online ordering availability.”

The menu board and drive-thru will be located on the west side of the building. That was a concession to neighbors living next to the property since the restaurant abuts a residential neighborhood.

Company officials huddled with neighborhood residents last fall for their input. The drive- thru will queue in front of the building, which historically is not how a Taco Bell layout is set up but is a concession to alleviate as much noise/annoyance to the neighborhood as possible.

The drive-thru has enough space to accommodate up to nine cars.

The company also agreed to add buffers in the form of 8-foot-tall privacy fencing and trees to help dampen any noise or acoustic problems.

Lighting is designed not to be a problem to residential properties.

The store will have a 35-foot-tall sign.

The site was previously home to J&D Auto-Truck Sales, which closed. The village rezoned the property from R-2 (residential) to C-2 (general commercial).

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