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Compiled by Chris Woodyard, Times staff writer

High-Tech Tacos: Taco Bell, based in Irvine, earns rave reviews in the June 4 issue of Fortune magazine for using technology to improve service. Though touted as one of the fastest-growing fast-food restaurant chains, Taco Bell is lauded for using computers for such mundane tasks as payroll, freeing up more time for managers to deal directly with customers. And by installing advanced cooking machines and using more pre-prepared ingredients, a new Taco Bell restaurant devotes only 40% of its space to the kitchen compared to 70% in an older store. The new stores also seat nearly twice as many customers as older stores.

"I know my customers now," the magazine quotes Judy South, a Taco Bell manager in Tustin, as saying. "I've been in fast food for 18 years and I've never been able to say that."

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