April 17, 2024

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Multiple Oakland Taco Bell locations close dining rooms due to safety issues

3 min read

Another Oakland fast-food business is making changes to how they operate because of safety concerns. 

Several locations of fast-food chain Taco Bell including restaurants on 35th Ave. and Hegenberger Rd. in Oakland have closed their indoor dining rooms. The drive-thru windows at the restaurants will remain open for customers to order food.

KPIX went to the location on 35th Ave. and and MacArthur Sunday evening and found signs confirming that the dining room at the location is currently closed.

Oakland Taco Bell dining rooms closed
Oakland Taco Bell dining rooms closed

KPIX


The restaurant has been robbed four times since November. Plywood still covers the window from three weeks ago, when robbers used a pick-up truck and cable to steal a safe. Of the four robberies the store has endured in as many months, two of them occurred when the restaurant was open for business. 

Kimberly Garibay, who works at the Metro Wireless store across the street, said the restaurant’s cash registers are not the only target.

“They just pull up out of nowhere and it’s not like they only rob the store. They rob everybody in there as well,” said Garibay. “So it’s not as safe as it used to be. There’s a lot of crime now.” 

The owner of the franchise, a company called Diversified Restaurant Group, has closed the dining rooms at all four of their Taco Bell locations in Oakland. 

That leaves a Taco Bell on Telegraph Ave. that is owned by another company as the only Oakland location where people can still eat indoors. And that restaurant has gone cashless to try to discourage robberies. 

Service only being provided via the drive-thru window presents a problem for some. An Oakland resident who gave her name as “Miss Jo” said she doesn’t own a car and had to ask a friend to drive her so she could get her lunch at Taco Bell.

“I don’t think it’s cool. It’s annoying, yeah,” she said. “I just feel bad for the patrons, you know what I’m saying?”

But as annoying as the inconvenience might be, most just see it as just a sad reminder of how bad things have gotten in Oakland.

“It breaks my heart. Because I want somebody to protect the citizens,” said Oakland resident Charles James.

“You can’t, you know, enjoy your meal in the comfort of the place you bought your meal. So, it’s like, them closing it down due to all the crime rates and everything…I don’t know, honestly,” said Oakland resident Aliyah Musa. “It’s just–what is Oakland coming to? Everything is getting worse. Things are closing down. You know, it’s just terrible.”  

While DRG has not commented on the changes, the fast-food chain’s public relations team sent KPIX the following statement regarding dining room closures:

“Providing a safe environment for team members and customers is the priority at Taco Bell restaurants. The franchise owner and operator has informed us that they are consistently evaluating and working to ensure a safe environment by implementing procedures, such as closing dining rooms, and hiring security guards, and they have taken extra measures to meet with local law enforcement.” 

At least for now, the Taco Bell corporation says there are no plans to close down any of the restaurants completely. 

The closures mark the latest major fast-food chain shutting down indoor dining room in Oakland.

Last year, Raising Cane’s near the Oakland Airport closed its dining room. Back in January, In-N-Out announced it would be closing the doors of the chain’s only Oakland location because of the rise in crime. That location’s last day of operation is on March 24th. 

A Starbucks store in the same lot as the In-N-Out shut down late last year, one of three chain businesses in the area of the Oakland Coliseum and Oakland Airport to close, citing repeat car burglaries.   

The Denny’s restaurant on the same block of Hegenberger Rd. as the Taco Bell location that has closed its dining room was also shuttered in late January over safety and crime concerns.

In response to the crime issues and business closures, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said the city would be doing more to protect the Hegenberger corridor area.

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