Taco Bell today became the latest QSR brand to unveil plans for digital-centric store formats that emphasize off-premises meal formats like takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
The biggest forthcoming development for Taco Bell store design is a major expansion of the brand’s Go Mobile concept, which launched last year. Go Mobile stores feature things like multiple drive-thru lanes, “bellhops” for curbside pickup orders, and minimal space for dining in. The concept, unveiled last summer, when cases of COVID-19 were high in the U.S., seems a direct response to the restaurant industry’s seismic shift towards both digital ordering and off-premises meals. “While the brand will continue building destination restaurants, it will simultaneously prioritize digital elements to maximize efficiency for on-the-go customers,” the company said in today’s press release.
Besides GoMobile, Taco Bell also cited a kiosk-only concept set to open in Manhattan, as well as new iterations of its drive-thru Cantina. In 2020, Taco Bell merged its traditional drive-thru concept with its Cantina concept at a location in Danville, California run by Taco Bell franchisee Diversified Restaurant Group. The restaurant offers the full Taco Bell menu along with a full bar for dine-in customers (when they can actually dine in), an outdoor fire pit, and a games area. More such locations are planned for the future.
Revamping store formats has been one of the major trends to come out of the last year for QSRs. From Burger King to McDonald’s to Sonic, there are many different iterations on the concept of retrofitting the QSR for the pandemic era. All share some common denominators, including more curbside pickup, less dining room space, and lots and lots of drive-thru lanes.
Taco Bell is no exception to this, as the above concepts underscore. The company did not provide any specific timeframes for these developments, saying only that it plans to have a total of 10,000 locations — including old and new — open globally in this decade.