Stranded in the Taco Bell–desert of downtown New Haven, Neche Veyssal ’20 has gone to great lengths to satisfy her cravings for dollar-menu Tex-Mex cuisine. On occasions, she has even rented a Zipcar to reach the nearest outpost — but no longer.

This summer, Taco Bell is coming to the Elm City, just in time for the start of the fall semester.

The new Taco Bell Cantina, an offshoot of the fast-food chain that will offer traditional menu Taco Bell items in a restaurant atmosphere, will be located at 956 Chapel Street, adjacent to the New Haven Green. The Cantina will serve both the full menu of Taco Bell and an assortment of alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and select cocktails, in a more sit-down setting designed for urban customers. Although operating hours have not yet been determined, Cantinas nationwide are open late night, with many doing business as late as 4 a.m. The Chapel Street location’s developer, Cantina Hospitality, is based out of nearby Greenwich and operates Taco Bell and Applebee’s franchises throughout the Northeast and Midwest.

Veyssal, who shared the Hartford Business Journal’s story about the Cantina’s impending arrival to New Haven to the popular Yale Facebook group “Overheard at Yale” expressed her enthusiasm about increased accessibility to Taco Bell and affordable food in general within walking distance of campus.

“I’m very excited as now I won’t have to rent a Zipcar to get Taco Bell,” Veyssal said. “It will start to be a tradition among my friends.”

Taco Bell initially introduced the Cantina concept in 2015, with a venue was in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Since then, Cantinas have popped up in more than 60 metropolitan areas across the United States. While Taco Bell has 43 locations in Connecticut, including two in the Elm City, the Chapel Street restaurant will be New England’s first Cantina.

Cantina Hospitality signed a 10-year lease for the 4114 square-foot space on Chapel Street.

Angela Xiao |