Taco Bell is one of the most recognizable fast food franchises in the country. But it's not immune to the high rate of failure these businesses historically experience. Despite the perception that opening a restaurant under the name of a well known brand is a sure way to success, the reality for many operators is much bleaker. The turnover rate for fast food outlets in the U.S. was 122% in 2014. Add this to the roughly 30% of new outlets which are shuttered by franchisors each year, and a business model of low margins and slow profits starts to emerge.

Taco Bell requires any would-be partner to come with a net worth of at least $1.5 million, with liquid assets of half that, before they are granted franchisee status. Once a restaurant is open—following construction costs and a franchising fee of $45,000—owners must continue to pay a 5.5% royalty fee of their gross sales to the parent company. These numbers are surmountable because a successful restaurant can bring in over $1.4 million in annual sales, but they don't consider extenuating circumstances, like location and customer base socioeconomics, which can influence revenue streams.

For Taco Bell particularly, empty or repurposed restaurants are easily recognized in the suburban landscape. Their distinctive architecture (another franchise requirement) of arched "bell" window frames and pitched roofs may spark a craving for Nachos Bell Grande, but they're also a marker of businesses that couldn't keep up.

Photos via Flickr