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Taco Bell Seeks to Redefine its Restaurants With New Design Formats

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(Taco Bell)

Many restaurants have changed their formats during the coronavirus pandemic — including well-known brands such as Taco Bell. The QSR chain reports that it is on track to have 10,000 restaurants open this decade as it also leverages multiple design formats to redefine the customer and team member QSR experience.

During the pandemic, Taco Bell adapted with improvements to its digital and drive-thru offerings that made safety and efficiency into priorities. But now, the company plans for its new builds and remodels to take modernization to new levels from coast to coast. “Prioritizing our development plans continues to be a major focus for 2021, especially as we look towards building our next 1,000 restaurants,” President and Global COO Mike Grams said.

“Even amid the challenging pandemic, we are continuing to grow due in large part to the strength in our franchise partnerships as well as the flexible formats we offer.”

— Mike Grams, president and COO

“Our restaurant portfolio continues to rapidly evolve, striking a crucial balance between being technology-forward and social-oriented,” he continued. “Even amid the challenging pandemic, we are continuing to grow due in large part to the strength in our franchise partnerships as well as the flexible formats we offer.”

For example, Taco Bell’s Cantina locations were originally developed to operate without drive-thrus. But earlier this year, the company and franchisee Diversified Restaurant Group partnered to open the first drive-thru Cantina in Danville, Calif. The location, Taco Bell says, is the first of its kind with an outdoor firepit and game area, along with full bar offerings for dine-in guests to use when it is safe again.

“I’ve been in the real estate and development business for decades,” Diversified President SG Ellison said. “The partnership we have with Taco Bell is unique — the brand empowers us franchisees with both autonomy and support, which has allowed my business to not just build traditional restaurants, but create destinations such as our flagship Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, as well as our Cantinas in Pacifica and now Danville.”

Taco Bell adds that it will continue constructing destination restaurants while also prioritizing digital elements to maximize efficiency. Its upcoming location in Manhattan will be kiosk-focused for a digital but in-person experience, and it will also continue rolling out its Go Mobile concept, which features dual drive-thru lanes and minimalistic physical spaces. This pleases franchisee Tina Reagan, the president and COO of K-Mac Enterprises.

“While new development is important, so is remodeling our existing restaurants to fit the needs of each trade area’s customers and surrounding community,” she said. “We are always looking to evolve to meet our guests’ needs, and transforming to be more digital forward is no exception. In the last year, we’ve remodeled three restaurants into our Go Mobile format, and plan to both remodel and build over 30 Go Mobile restaurants by year-end.”

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