Jhaj family planning to have it opened by the end of the year

 Taft's Taco Bell drought will soon be over.

Plans for a new Taco Bell to be built right next to the building where Taco Bell once served up burritos, tacos and other fast-food favorites were announced Thursday morning at Taft City Hall.

The Jhaj Family, one of the biggest names in franchises in the region, will be bringing the fast-food restaurant back to taft and hope to have it up and running by the end of the year.
Taft's old Taco Bell closed in late 2012 over issues that had nothing to do with how much money the franchise was making. In fact, it was rumored to be one of the top grossing Taco Bells in the area.

Now, six week's after developer Geary Coats hinted at a return, its official.

“We are excited to come to Taft and bring Taco Bell back to Taft,” Rick Jhaj said. “Our goal, if at all possible, is to be open by the end of the year.”

The Jhaj family is working on the planning and permitting process with city officials.

“A lot of franchise owners wanted to come to Taft but we got the nod,” said Raji Brar. “A lot of people wanted to be in Taft but we're the lucky ones.”

Family patriarch Rupinder Jhaj was accompanied by his wife, children and daughter-in-law.

He is an Indian immigrant who started working in the agricultural fields in the Fresno area and, with his family, has built his a mini-empire of franchises in the area.
The family operates four Pizza Huts and eight gas stations. They built the Shell station on Highway 119 and opened it on July 4, 2001.

It has a small Taco Bell inside the minimart but a new, full sized Taco Bell is going in there, too.

This will be the third Taco Bell and it's going to sport an entirely new design.

The new Taco Bell will create an additional 30 jobs for Taft.

Mayor Paul Linder said people miss Taco Bell and frequently ask him about it.

“Of all the questions I get, no one wants to know about streets or potholes or anything else. It's all about Taco Bell,” he said.

Coats drew a big round of applause when he announced at the state of the city luncheon in April that Taco Bell was coming back to town.