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Taco Bell brings back Big Ben's chimes to mark outlets' opening

It enlists help of specialist audio designer and composer to re-engineer sound of famous bell that's silenced for repairs

London

BIG Ben may be out of action, but, this week, a new bell is stepping in to give it back its mojo.

To mark the opening of four new restaurants across London, the world's largest Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, Taco Bell, has returned Big Ben's world-famous chimes to the streets of the capital.

To do it, Taco Bell, with the help of specialist audio designer and composer, Simon Little of UNIT9, re-engineered the sound of the Westminster Quarters, using the Taco Bell chime. Following this, multiple sets of custom-made speakers capable of very narrow sound beams were installed around the area. These broadcast the sound of the bell every hour, bringing one of the city's most iconic landmarks back to life.

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Better still, the speakers were designed to ensure that mainly people walking nearby can hear the chimes, surprising and delighting pedestrians, policemen, politicians and more as they passed the signs telling them that Big Ben is temporarily silenced for repairs.

"Knowing Big Ben was out of action for repairs, we felt Taco Bell was in a unique position to reunite London with the famous chimes," said Jorge Torres, the general manager of Taco Bell Europe.

"So we used our bell to help out your big bell - and to do our bit for that special US/UK relationship at the same time. Londoners have been asking for Taco Bell to come to the capital city for a long while now, and hopefully, the opening of our new restaurants across the city will also be music to their ears!"

It was reported last year in August that the Big Ben's famous bongs would be silenced for four years as major conservation work is carried out. The deafening chimes are being stopped to protect workers who are renovating the Elizabeth Tower that houses the Great Clock and its bell.

They are set to begin chiming again regularly in 2021, although they will still ring out for important national events such as New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday. It will be the longest period that Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history.

London's four new Taco Bell restaurants will open in the coming months, joining the brand's 27 other restaurants across the UK. Menus will include Taco Bell's selection of Mexican-inspired food, including the Crunchwrap Supreme, Grilled Stuft Burrito, trademark Crunchy Taco, Big Bell Box, Twisted Freezes and beer.

Specials will include Happy Hour and Taco Tuesday featuring a taco and a beer for just £2 (S$3.53) and a Cravers value menu, providing abundant value with filling options at low prices.

Additionally, the Hammersmith restaurant will feature the same beer innovation as seen in Taco Bell's Las Vegas flagship restaurant, where beer fills the cup from the bottom before being sealed with a magnet.

Besides the outlet in Hammersmith, the others are in Holborn, Croydon and Fulham.

Liz Williams, president of Taco Bell International, said: "We've seen an overwhelmingly positive response to our UK restaurants, and have ambitious plans for growth in London and the broader UK, targeting more than 30 UK restaurants by the end of the year."

Taco Bell Corp, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc is the world's leading Mexican-inspired quick service restaurant brand. Taco Bell serves made-to-order tacos and burritos and other specialities.

There are currently 27 Taco Bell restaurants in the UK. Taco Bell can be found in major towns and cities across the country.

There are now more than 440 Taco Bell restaurants across 27 markets outside the United States. The American chain is continuing to expand internationally.

The company and its franchises operate more than 7,000 restaurants, and the brand is hoping to have 9,000 restaurants globally by 2022. REUTERS