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What's the Real Story Behind Taco Bill?

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

A Quick History

In Australia today, Taco Bill is synonymous with Mexican food. It is the longest established and most respected Mexican restaurant family in the country, having survived and prospered in the competitive hospitality industry for over 50 years. The company’s beginnings were simple with founder (Taco) Bill Chilcote coming to Australia in 1967 from the border of Mexico and California with just a corn grinder and a tortilla machine. He started producing tortillas and corn chips and opened the first Taco Bill Mexican restaurant on Queensland’s Gold Coast and then proceeded south, opening firstly in Bondi, Sydney and next in Armadale, in Melbourne.

Chilcote developed all recipes and seasonings, which have been used since inception in order for all Taco Bills to carry on its original flavour that sets them apart from other Mexican restaurants. When Chilcote arrived in Australia, there were no other Mexican restaurants. He pioneered the cuisine in the country, starting with a small menu consisting of a few classics – the taco, enchilada and nachos. Whilst Taco Bill origins were as a take-away concept it opened its first dine-in restaurant in Melbourne in the early 1970s and introduced the frozen margarita in Australia at its first licensed location in St Kilda in 1980. All Taco Bill locations are licensed casual dine-in restaurants serving frozen and hand-crafted margaritas and sangria, and many have an extensive range of tequilas and all have full takeaway facilities.

Over the ensuing years, Taco Bill has created a menu which offers a wide variety of authentic and traditional Mexican cuisine that has truly developed a loyal and growing following in Australia. As Taco Bill’s popularity increased, the company has attracted interest from many people wanting to establish their own Taco Bill businesses and thus, the current franchising network has developed. Taco Bill has maintained its market leadership status for over five decades by adhering to sound basic principles of providing its valued customers with interesting, high quality food, a fun atmosphere and excellent value.

Who is Bill?

Hailing from the California/Mexican border, Bill Chilcote grew up in an area heavily influenced by Mexican cuisine. He married a Mexican woman who came from a family who was in the restaurant business themselves, owning several cantinas. Chilcote brought this experience with him down under, ensuring Taco Bill’s recipes came from the kitchen of his mother-in-law, not from a cookbook.

Taco Bill Growth

Stan Teschke and his wife Vicki helped turn Taco Bill into the restaurants that stand before us today. After opening the first dine-in restaurant with Bill Chilcote in the Melbourne CBD, they went on to open the South Melbourne location in 1975. From there, the Taco Bill name and demand grew and began expanding into different parts of Melbourne. Tom Kartel joined the South Melbourne staff in the 80s, and by the early 2000s had worked to become Joint Director alongside Teschke. Together they continued to grow the Taco Bill brand, with over 30 locations across Victoria and New South Wales at one point. Today Tom Kartel continues to direct over the Taco Bill franchise and looks forward to new opportunities to continue the story of Taco Bill.

Where Are We Now?

Taco Bill currently has 26 locations across Victoria and New South Wales including:

Albury (NSW)

Altona North (VIC)

Bacchus Marsh (VIC)

Ballarat (VIC)

Beaconsfield (VIC)

Bentleigh (VIC)

Black Rock (VIC)

Blackburn (VIC)

Boronia (VIC)

Camberwell (VIC)

Cranbourne (VIC)

Croydon (VIC)

Epping (VIC)

Greensborough (VIC)

Keilor Downs (VIC)

Lilydale (VIC)

Malvern East (VIC)

Melbourne Collins Street (VIC)

Melbourne Russell Street (VIC)

Melton (VIC)

Mornington (VIC)

Pakenham (VIC)

South Melbourne (VIC)

Springvale (VIC)

Sunbury (VIC)

Warragul (VIC)

List of restaurants can be found here

Who Are Our Employees?

The franchise’s highly trained staff bring personality to every customer they interact with. They share a passion for great food, as well as knowledge about the Mexican cuisine. A huge part of Taco Bill is the people. A company that focuses on growth opportunities for its employees within, many former chefs and wait staff have gone on to become franchise owners themselves, including current Director Tom Kartel, who started as a kitchen hand in one of the Melbourne restaurants.

While Taco Bill is a franchised company, the restaurants themselves are individually owned and operated, and it is encouraged that the personalities of the people behind the individual businesses show through in the way their establishments are presented. This leads to subtle unique differences in all Taco Bill locations. What doesn’t change are the key standards of Taco Bill and the recipes they use, and the way their food is prepared.

What’s the Deal with Our Food and Drinks?

Taco Bill offers a wide range of authentic and traditional Mexican food. All meat, vegetables and fruit are sourced locally and prepared fresh daily. Many of the spices used in the kitchen are imported directly from Mexico. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options are available, as well as any special dietary or allergen requests.

Nutrition Australia Vic Division conducted work in October 2017 to determine the

kilojoules of Taco Bill’s menu for the Victorian Government’s kilojoule labelling scheme. As

previously advised, this scheme is part of a multi-strategy approach to encourage healthy eating and aims to support consumers to make healthier choices when they are eating outside of the home.

Without sacrificing flavour, Taco Bill aims to provide healthy options for every diner. Every location prepares the food in their own kitchens and cooks each meal for customers using the freshest ingredients on a daily basis. Geared toward being a family-friendly restaurant, the menu offers options for all ages.

Taco Bill bottles its own trademarked hot sauce, and in the past has also sold its own tequila and beer.

‘The House of Margaritas,’ Taco Bill is famous for its extensive dine-in beverage offering, including the famous Pancho Villa (Fishbowl) Margarita, also known as Australia’s largest frozen margarita. For over 30 years and to this day, customers receive a free sombrero when purchasing a Pancho Villa Margarita.

A big supporter of local suppliers, Taco Bill gets its goods from many Australian providers such as Aztec Mexican Products and Liquor, Bidfood, G&T Chickens, Merchant Australia, Marino Bros, and Ixom, to name a few.

What Do We Have to Show for it?

Taco Bill has been the receiver of several awards, including:

Presenter: Lifestyle FOOD cable network

Award: I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Category: Australia’s Favourite Mexican Restaurant

Year: 2007

Location: Taco Bill South Melbourne

Voters: Australian Public

Lifestyle FOOD cable network

I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Presenter: Lifestyle FOOD cable network

Award: I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Category: Australia’s Favourite Mexican Restaurant

Year: 2009

Location: Taco Bill South Melbourne

Voters: Australian Public

Presenter: Lifestyle FOOD cable network

Award: I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Category: Australia’s Favourite Mexican Restaurant

Year: 2010

Location: Taco Bill South Melbourne

Voters: Australian Public

Presenter: Lifestyle FOOD cable network

Award: I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Category: Overall winner of Australia’s Favourite Place to Eat Out

Year: 2010

Location: Taco Bill South Melbourne

Voters: Australian Public

Presenter: Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS

Award: Awards for Excellence

Category: Overall Winner

Year: 2011

Location: Taco Bill Albury

Voters: Restaurant & Catering Judges

Presenter: Lifestyle FOOD cable network

Award: I Love FOOD Award (national scale)

Category: Australia’s Favourite Mexican Restaurant

Year: 2012

Location: Taco Bill South Melbourne

Voters: Australian Public

What About Our Loyal Customers?

Taco Bill has always been customer focused, and always want to say “thank you” to its loyal fanbase – some who have been dining in since the beginning! Club Taco was started as a way to give back to customers that love Taco Bill. Signing up for the club gives Taco members access to extra special deals that aren’t promoted anywhere else. Boasting over 70,000 members, Club Taco has continued to rise in popularity throughout the few years it has been around.

How Do We Get Involved?

Taco Bill Restaurants are very active in their local communities and have been given the opportunity to get involved with several schools, clubs, and organizations throughout the years. Taco Bill has donated vouchers, food packages and more to various events, such as Trivia Nights and fundraisers. These donations have had an impact on hundreds if not thousands of people in communities all around Victoria.

Below are some of the names of the schools and organizations Taco Bill has been proud to sponsor:

Albert Park Primary School

Ashwood School

Aurora School

Barngeong Reserve Kindergarten

Beaumaris Primary School

Belgrave Heights Christian School

Box Hill Institute

Brentwood Park Kindergarten

Broadmeadows Valley Primary School

Carrington Primary School

Giant Steps Melbourne Education Center

Heathmont East Preschool

Loyola College, Watsonia

Marlborough Primary School

Meruka Childcare Cooperative

Middle Park Primary School

Mill Park Primary School

Our Lady of the Pines Primary School

Pascoe Vale North Primary School

Port Melbourne Primary School

Port Melbourne Uniting Church Kindergarten

Presentation College, Windsor

Ringwood North Primary School

St Thomas More Primary School

St. Margaret's Parish and Primary School

St. Scholastica's Catholic School

Trinity Catholic Primary School

Upper Ferntree Gully Primary School

Diamond Valley Sports and Fitness Centre

Greenbriar Little Athletics Club

Langwarrin Cricket Club

Melbourne Sports Centre (MSAC)

Whitehorse Mustangs Basketball Club

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea

Bottom's Up Fundraising Inc.

Brimbank Leo Club

Casey & District Multiple Birth Association Inc

Eastern Health Foundation

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Operation Smile Australia

Special Olympics Melbourne West

Whittlesea District Branch Helping Hands Association for Persons with an Intellectual Disability Inc.

Award References

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