Bethel, Alaska, Got 10,000 Free Tacos, and Taco Bell Got a Great PR Video
Recently the entire town of Bethel, Alaska, which has only a Subway as the lone-fast food restaurant, was tricked into thinking they were going to get a Taco Bell. Signs were posted around town and word spread quickly in the small town of about 6,000.
Then, after the hoax was exposed and made national headlines, in a genius PR move, Taco Bell decided to show up the trickster. They flew in a taco truck and gave 10,000 Doritos Tacos Locos to the residents of Bethel. You can watch the feel-good video here.
A little about Bethel. From the town's website, Bethel is a "regional hub for 56 surrounding native villages," and was first established by Yup'ik Inuit called "Mamteriilleq" meaning "Smokehouse People." It serves as a trading, transportation and distribution area for the Yukon-Kuskowim delta.
Does the air-lift of the taco truck sound a little dramatic? Yeah, I thought so too. Until the Alaska Dispatch pointed out that Bethel is "off the road system, meaning the only access to the community is by air or boat."
I'll be honest: I was skeptical. I started calling around Bethel asking if this was all a grand scheme by Taco Bell. After about seven calls, turns out it wasn't. A lady at the Chamber of Commerce told me all of it was spontaneous. She also said she thinks the person who pulled the original "lousy trick" by posting the signs about the new Taco Bell has been identified, although not charged with anything because they didn't actually break any laws.
It made me wonder what the community of Bethel eats the rest of the year -- when trucks of tacos aren't being flown in.
There are 11 restaurants in town, but they're hard to track down. In many small markets, restaurants close just about the time they get the business cards printed. There are two Bethel reviewers who run a racket on Yelp. "Robert M H" and "Tiffany T".
Aside from a Subway, only a few places stand out as keepers, which seems about right for a town that size.
Seems Dimitiri's is the best place to go for Greek or Italian. One reviewer said it was the best restaurant within 400 miles, "Granted, that's not saying much."
Robert M H thinks Sho Guns is "really amazing" and a recent remodel really helped the place. Although Tiffany T warned the sushi guy was running the entire place by himself. So, please don't call, because if he's on the phone then he can't ... you know ... roll sushi.
Sam's Restaurant got an 800-plus word write-up from Tiffany T and a full five stars. But, the place has been sliding recently and she's has given them one less star in two more recent reviews, for three-stars currently.
VIP Restaurant got one solid review on the sushi. A date there went nicely.
After an hour or so trying to find information on the what they eat in Bethel, I realize that a Doritos Locos Taco truck probably was a really big friggin' deal. And, PR move or not, I'm happy for them.