Taco Bell to ‘challenge’ COVID, gives futuristic twist to new restaurant coming in 2022

Taco Bell (YUM) is embarking on the latest future restaurant design.

Dubbed “Taco Bell Defy,” the food giant doubles trends amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely digital ordering and delivery. The location is slated to debut in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, but won’t open until summer 2022.

According to the company, the new design concept was developed by Vertical Works, based in Minneapolis, and includes a four-lane drive-thru experience. Drive-thru has become a staple of the dining experience in the pandemic era that has been embraced by Starbucks (SBUX), Dunkin Donuts and other food chains.

Three of these lanes will only be dedicated to mobile or delivery order pickups made on the Taco Bell app, or through third-party delivery services.

A customer orders from a Taco Bell digital kiosk inside America’s first digital-only canteen in Times Square in New York City, United States, April 14, 2021. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

The design of the 3,000-square-foot restaurant roughly matches the existing footprints of the Taco Bell locations, but the foot traffic is expected to be higher. To facilitate the flow of customers, there will be digital check-in screens for mobile order customers to scan their order with a unique QR code, another staple of the COVID-19 era, without contact.

The food order chain will be routed through a sophisticated system that includes two-way audio and video technology for contactless chat with the employee. In addition, the kitchen itself will be completely elevated in order to “optimize and streamline operations” for the benefit of employees and customers, according to the company.

To bring this concept to life, Taco Bell will also build on its 35-year partnership with Border Foods, one of the largest private Taco Bell franchisees in America.

Citing 2015 innovation from Taco Bell Cantina, which is popular in some urban markets, the company hinted that the Brooklyn Park concept may soon find its way into other markets.

“Partnering with our franchisees to test new concepts is a huge source of learning for us,” said Mike Grams, president and CEO of Taco Bell in the release. “What we are learning from testing this new Defy concept can help shape future Taco Bell restaurants.”

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email him at [email protected]

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