Graig Mantle

When most people think of popular attractions in San Luis Obispo, they may automatically think of the Mission or Madonna Inn because they are so well-known in the community. But how often do people think of Taco Bell?

Imagine students returning home for the holidays and telling their family and friends, “Yeah, and you really should check out the Taco Bell off Santa Rosa if you’re ever visiting SLO.”

It may seem trivial, but apparently the students of Cal Poly just can’t get enough of that Taco Bell located at 397 Santa Rosa St., especially late at night on the weekends.

This particular fast-food restaurant is the second-leading Taco Bell in sales in the nation and first in California in sales during Cal Poly’s main three quarters.

“I guess we’re just so damn friendly to the inebriated,” said Anthony DiBernardo, environmental management senior and Taco Bell manager.

Statistics show that Friday is typically the biggest day in sales for Taco Bell because the lunch, dinner and late-night averages are the highest. However, Saturday follows closely behind.

On Halloween this year, Taco Bell served 125 people between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., 110 people from 2 to 5 p.m., 95 people from 5 to 8 p.m. and 459 customers from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

“Everybody’s drunk, hungry and messy. We have a younger crew, so we can take more of the bullshit because we have more energy,” said 20-year-old Taco Bell employee Daniel Pettigrew.

The staff said the graveyard shift deals with fights, complaining, rudeness, vomit and urination in the restaurant. The employees have had food items thrown at them and had to call the police once on Halloween this year.

Statistics showed that the average graveyard weekend shift brings in $500 to $550 per hour. However, statistics for Halloween night also showed that the average food delivery time to the customer after they ordered was 36 seconds.

“Halloween last year was pretty crazy in here,” said aerospace engineering junior Tanner Bennett, who was dining at Taco Bell around 12:30 a.m. Friday. “Everyone was in their costumes and I had a battle with another guy about whose territory it was because we were both dressed as Chippendales.”

The staff has noticed that the two favorite “drunk foods” ordered late at night are the Crunchwrap Supreme and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

“Taco Bell is the most affordable and good food; I feel like I stole from them,” said English junior Rocco Brown-Morris, who was also dining late Friday.

The staff said another busy time inside the restaurant is Saturday morning because people come back from the night before looking for lost and found items. The lost and found box had several sets of car keys and clothing items, including underwear, that had been left in the restaurant, DiBernardo said.

DiBernardo related that the revenue brought in from the students who purchase from Taco Bell late at night is definitely a positive, but the behavior of many is ultimately frustrating and often inappropriate.

“Remember the cardinal rule: never screw with the people who handle your food,” DiBernardo said.

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