In keeping with DRG’s commitment to innovation, we kicked off 2024 with the opening of our first all digital, drive-thru only Taco Bell in Kansas City, MO! Unlike traditional Taco Bells, this location at 3030 Van Brunt Blvd has no lobby or seating — rapid drive-thru service is the focus

“This latest location features all the conveniences that consumers appreciate,” says DRG President and CEO SG Ellison.

The Van Brunt location features a dual-lane drive-thru, a vestibule equipped with two ordering kiosks, and a late-night pickup window for mobile orders. 

To streamline your Taco Bell experience at our newest Kansas City location, download the Taco Bell app from the App Store or Google Play at https://www.tacobell.com/mobile-app or order from your favorite delivery provider. No matter how you place your order, it’s always our goal to serve up high-quality food, fast! 

‘Tis the season for saving! Which is good news for DRG Taco Bell employees pursuing their higher education goals. The application window is officially open for Taco Bell Foundation’s 2023-2024 Live Más Scholarships! Have YOU applied?

DRG was thrilled to celebrate our 2023 winners at our “Dollars For Scholars” event in Las Vegas, NV. Consider Krystka, who was awarded $25,000, and Yohanese, who received a check for $10,000, now even better positioned to chase after their education dreams. 

Are You Eligible?

All applicants must meet all of the following criteria as of the last day of the program period to be considered eligible for the 2024 Live Más Scholarship Program for Taco Bell Restaurant Employees:  

How to Apply

Need the 411 on how to apply? Grab a pen and paper, then head to this page for all the important details. We’ve also included the CliffsNotes version here for your reference:

Submit a video (2 minutes or less in length) that answers the following questions:

The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. PST, January 3, 2024. What are you waiting for?! Apply today and you could see your name on the list of 2024 DRG winners. We believe in you!

You don’t get to be one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees by sleeping on new store openings! At DRG, we love a good cause for celebration. This time, it was for a Taco Bell restaurant opening in Independence, MO. The first 100 guests to make a purchase received a Taco Bellbranded cup with a free taco coupon. And no new store opening would be complete without a ribboncutting ceremony!

“Our new restaurant in Independence is a great location for locals in the area or travelers passing through, making it possible to accommodate busy guests on the go,” said our President & CEO, SG Ellison. 

Accommodating guests on the go is our specialty. After all, we’ve been in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry for over a decade! DRG’s initial acquisition of Taco Bell restaurants happened in 2012 and at the start of 2023, we celebrated a milestone ten times that of the original transaction with 300 restaurants and counting. In fact, were already up to 350-plus stores as of this article! As such, DRG is now one of the largest QSR franchisees in the country. Welcome to the family, Independence!


Kara Ramirez hit the ground running when she joined DRG in May of 2023. As the new Vice President of Operations, Kara brings 25 years of restaurant operations experience and a whole new perspective to DRG — after all, she is our first female VP of Ops.

“I am honored to be the first female VP of Ops and hope to pioneer the way for other future female leaders who aspire to rise to the VP level and beyond,” shares Kara, aligning beautifully with DRG’s Women in Leadership (WIL) initiative. “I am thrilled to be a part of an organization with leaders who understand the importance of embracing diversity,” Kara continued.

“[I am] an unapologetic voice who opens the door for other women to walk through.” -Kara Ramirez, Vice President of Operations


Kara is excited to be a part of the team, and is particularly passionate about getting the Kansas City market on a path to greater success. “The thing that most attracted me to this opportunity was, as I expected, there are really great people in Kansas City,” Kara says. 

DRG in particular is an amazing company who is committed to its people and values everyone’s voice.” -Kara Ramirez, Vice President of Operations

As for her leadership style, Kara describes herself as “firm but fair.” She continues, “In my experience, people are more vested in their [own] decisions and find ways to ensure the success of their plan.” She believes in “teaching people how to fish [rather than] feeding them fish,” and is a true case of leading by example. She believes in empowering her people to make decisions, make mistakes, learn, and do it all over again. As leaders, we have a unique opportunity to reach down and pull others up along with us.” DRG in particular is an amazing company who is committed to its people and values everyone’s voice.”

“The best ideas are discovered when we feel empowered.” -Kara Ramirez, Vice President of Operations.


Congratulations on the new role, Kara. We could not be more excited to have you, and cannot wait to see what you accomplish!


We’re excited to announce another exciting year of our partnership with NHL’s San Jose Sharks for the 2023-24 season! DRG has proudly sponsored the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights for more than two years on the ice.

“We’re thrilled to continue this partnership,” says Sierra Burk, DRG Communications & Media Manager. “This partnership allows us to create impactful experiences for hockey fans and Taco Bell fans alike.”

With the August opening of our newest cantina in San Jose, CA — located in the Westfield Oakridge Mall — we thought it perfect to kick off the hockey season together! Sharks fans were invited into the restaurant for a meet and greet with players, including Right Wing Kevin Labanc and Center Luke Kunin. The team mascot, Sharkie, never misses these events!

Sharks fans that attend home games during the upcoming season get four free tacos when the Sharks score four or more goals! So c’mon, let’s cheer them on!

About the San Jose Cantina

San Jose marks our newest cantina location. Every cantina has its own unique personality and theme. San Jose boasts a retro look with a vintage movie theater display case. It also features patio seating for up to 24 guests and alcoholic beverages, including liquor, beer and wine available to order. Like all of our cantinas, it’s a great place to host a party!

While sitting under the beautiful Cabo sunshine, we had the pleasure of chatting with Rich Wierzbowski, Vice President of Operations of our Nevada market. Rich has been with DRG for nearly eight years, and he shared with us his contagious excitement for the future of DRG.
“We’re at Cabo Azul for the second year in a row,” says Rich. “It’s celebrating DRG as a whole, but then some specific individuals that seem to go above and beyond.” And boy, there’s lot to celebrate this year!
During his time at DRG, Rich has experienced his own explosive career growth, which he attributes to the opportunities provided to him by DRG leadership.
“When we were part of the franchise that DRG bought, I was an Area Coach,” Rich shares. “I’ve had the chance to go ahead and grow my career exponentially over the last seven and a half years.”

“DRG has been one heck of a company to go ahead and work for.” -Rich Wierzbowski, VP of Operations, Nevada


With his tenure and expertise, Rich is now getting a taste of what it’s like to be in leadership. He’s had the privilege of training in Kara Ramirez, the new VP of Operations in Kansas City, as part of DRG’s Women in Leadership (WIL) initiative. “Somebody with Kara’s leadership and background is something that that market really needs … I think that’s one of the keys to her success is that she knows that market.”

Rich is the perfect example of a true leader, taking the time to develop another future leader, just as others have done for him.

“She’s [learning] things in record time,” Rich says of his Kansas City counterpart.

“The great thing about the leadership in our company is that they want to go ahead and pay that forward, and reward the people that are doing a great job with wonderful opportunities like this trip to Cabo.” -Rich Wierzbowski, VP of Operations, Nevada

Rich and DRG have no plans to slow down anytime soon.

“As we continue to go ahead and grow our company, there’s nothing but fantastic opportunity,” he shares.

While DRG continues to grow every day, Rich’s message to everyone is that the opportunities at DRG are limitless. “If you’re looking to be in Cabo, this is an opportunity that’s open to everybody in DRG … work hard, treat your people right, go out of your way to go ahead and do the extras, and you can go ahead and see yourself here in Cabo.”

Rich, we remain grateful for your hard work, exceptional attitude and leadership!


At DRG, it’s go BIG or go home. In April, we proudly vocalized our commitment to making more room for women at the leadership table, where their voices and ideas can be prominently heard, shared and valued. With this, we launched our new Women in Leadership (WIL) Initiative and announced our first class of WIL honorees as just one of many moves in the right direction.

“Diversity of thought is necessary for any successful business.” – Kara Ramirez, New VP of Operations – Kansas City

These trailblazers are special people in their own right who are at the forefront of changing company culture, just by being who they are, and confidently leading and inspiring the next generation of young women. And we haven’t stopped there! This month, we’re thrilled to have

new Senior Vice President of Human Resources Deb Wendorf and Director of Operations for Kansas City Christie Glasear join the team.

Without further ado, meet our newest female Senior Area Coaches:

Dion McKinnon, Senior Area Coach, Taco Bell – Reno

Dion joined DRG four years ago, right before the start of the pandemic. She started as Area Coach in our Las Vegas Taco Bell market, and now leads in Reno. She strives to be a role model to others, “helping people grow and achieve whatever their future goals may be.” 

“I feel so honored to be a part of an organization that has made women in leadership such a huge priority.” – Dion McKinnon, Sr. Area Coach – Taco Bell

Debbie King, Senior Area Coach, Taco Bell – Las Vegas

Debbie has been with DRG for seven years and Taco Bell for 25! That’s a long time to be trying to secure a seat in a male-dominant upper management setting.

When DRG acquired her former employer, Debbie says she became the first Restaurant General Manager to be promoted to AC. Now, she’s enjoying another first as one of the first females to rise above that title at DRG. To show the significance, Debbie is now responsible for 17 restaurants and more than 450 team members!

“I believe that every company should be run this way. We all bring something different and valuable to the table … I feel blessed to be a part of Diversified Restaurant Group.” – Debbie King, Sr. Area Coach, Taco Bell

Debbie, also an immigrant, credits her all-male mentors at DRG for making her feel valued and supported every step of the way.

Laura Fuentes, Senior Area Coach, Las Vegas

Laura assumes the Senior Area Coach position on the Arby’s side of our business. She’s been with DRG since 2019 and dedicated to the Arby’s brand for 20 years.

Laura says she takes great pride in DRG where she’s seen male leadership remain consistent in their assurances that being a woman will not be an obstacle. And so far, that’s true! According to her, DRG has offered ample opportunity and avenues for growth so long as she’s put in the effort.

“DRG showed me that I have more potential than I thought.” – Laura Fuentes, Sr. Area Coach

Responsible for more than 20 restaurants, Laura empowers others to reach their full potential too. She says that she appreciates working in an environment where other women make her feel welcome and valued.

At DRG, we want to change culture at every level. And we’re doing it!

To you, well-deserving women, thank you for paving the way for future female leaders and for proving that yes, you CAN do it. We salute you!

It’s a season of growth for DRG, and we knew the perfect person to help manage the job. He just had to be lured out of retirement first. Bob Schalow is a 21-year Taco Bell veteran who held 14 different titles during his tenure with the brand. Which makes him the perfect choice to lead DRG’s continued expansion into the SoCal market as our Senior Vice President of Operations in Southern California. Bob was recently brought in to manage a large acquisition and offer support to the team. “It’s a really exciting time,” he shares.

Bob believes an important part of his job is to make the new team members “feel welcome in our family.” Bringing on new restaurants, and the accompanying teams, is all about stabilizing, hiring and training. “Now, we are focused on taking it to the next level,” Bob says.

Competitive Spirit 

A father of two soon-to-be college athlete daughters, Bob took a sabbatical from a travel-heavy work schedule to be able to focus on his daughters and their athletic careers as a competitive swimmer and field hockey player, respectively. Perhaps being around the competition inspired him, because Bob soon found himself itching for a new challenge. And that’s where DRG came in. “I would have said no to anybody else,” Bob shares.

“We want DRG to be the top of five stars across the country and in Taco Bell.”

DRG’s Southern California Market surrounds the heart of Taco Bell (founded in Downey, CA). So it’s more important than ever to operate at a higher level. And who would know better than Bob? He joined Taco Bell on the corporate side in 1995 and even met his wife while working for the brand. “I started with Taco Bell. I am going to finish with Taco Bell,” he asserts.


Growth Mindset

Bob understands that an expansion of 100 restaurants represents thousands of employees and lots of opportunity for growth. “We’re making an impact in people’s lives every day,” he says.

Which is why Bob’s focus is on continuing to make the DRG culture a winning culture, and one that people want to be part of. His favorite part of the job is interviewing the next generation of DRG leaders and promoting them “from a team member, all the way up.”

“I am having the time of my life. I love this brand,” Bob shares. A living example of DRG’s mission to positively impact the lives of our team and the communities in which we serve.

“We are looking to lead the way.”

Karlo Koska started working for DRG as a cashier at age 17 (a job that also included toilet cleaning duties), which is what makes his swift rise through the ranks to Senior Financial Analyst all the more impressive! Karlo excelled in his role so much, he was named the Top RSC Employee Of the Year and was one of the lucky attendees on a recent Champions’ Club reward trip to San José del Cabo where we caught up with him. 

“My Mom’s gonna be proud that I’m here,were the first words out of his mouth.

Karlo started as cashier … and now he’s Senior Financial Analyst!

So what does a financial analyst do?  “I support the field with all their data needs,” Karlo shares. “I take all that admin work away from them so they can focus on … running the restaurant.” It’s a job that keeps him so busy, everyone’s got me on speed dial.”

DRG’s Prodigal Son

Before Karlo became an analyst, he stepped away from DRG for what he calls “a ninemonth vacation.” During that time, DRG continued to grow and there was an increase in opportunities in the analytics field. This sparked Karlo’s interest. Karlo was in the process of buying a house when DRG came calling. The timing seemed perfect! 

“They’ve shown up. Every time,” he shares.

Now Karlo is very happy in his role and enjoys going into the office every day. “Everybody’s pretty much family there,” he says. “I love having these guys around.”

Karlo says his job is all about helping people out, a dedication which earned him a place in the coveted Champions’ Club

“I think that’s what really got me here,” he says. “Being selfless in what I do.” 

Upon arriving in San José del Cabo, Karlo says he realized, “These guys really DO appreciate meI appreciate them appreciating me!”

“These guys really do appreciate me.” -Karlo Koska, Senior Financial Analyst


For anyone looking for advice on how to achieve their own career success, Karlo says, “Always try to add value to the challenge we’re trying to solve. Being helpful and working as a team will bring everybody up!”

As for the future with DRG, “I definitely see an upward trajectory in the growth here,” Karlo says. A promising prediction coming from a financial analyst!

Hearing, “Good morning beautiful people!” takes on a whole new meaning when said from the sandy beaches of San José del Cabo, Mexico.

Last time we caught up with Pearly, she was working in her position as a Market Training Manager for DRG in (perhaps equally sunny) Fontana, CA. A restaurant veteran of 32 years, Pearly is known for being reliable and putting her heart into her work. Which explains why we most recently found her at DRG’s Champions’ Club reward trip.

Each year we welcome a new group of top performing leaders into DRG’s esteemed Champions’ Club and reward them with a special retreat away from the restaurant scene. This year, Pearly was able to bring her husband along to join in on the rest and relaxation. Although, adventure might be the name of the game, with Pearly citing camel riding, ATV rides and sailing as her favorite activities! “We made great memories,” she shares.

After eight years with DRG, Pearly still confidently declares her love for her job and for taking care of the guests as well as her team. THIS is how you become the best of the best.

“I am very grateful I am a part of this dynamic company,” she says.

The feeling is mutual!

If you want to be part of a company that rewards your hard work and dedication, consider joining the DRG team today!