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08/13/2021

Taco Bell to Debut Frictionless Drive-Thru Concept in 2022

Taco Bell has dropped a sneak peek of its new drive-thru concept coming in 2022.
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Taco Bell Defy

The quick-service Mexican food chain will launch a new store model with a focus on drive-thru service for customers who order food via the app or through third-party delivery platforms, Chain Store Age reported. The store, called Taco Belly Defy, will break ground at Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, this month. It is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

The concept comes as drive-thru has surged throughout the pandemic. Other retailers, such as 7-Eleven are also trying out new store concepts to capitalize on the shifting consumer behaviors.

The store, which will be 3,000 square feet with two stories, was designed in partnership with Minneapolis-based Vertical Works Inc., which has a specialty in quick-service restaurants. In the new concept, three of the drive-thru lanes will be dedicated to mobile or delivery order pickups. One lane will remain as a traditional drive-thru.

The Defy store will also feature digital check-in screens enabling customers to scan a unique QR code for their pickup order. Customers then pull forward to pick up their food contactlessly through a proprietary lift system.

“In 2015, we created the Taco Bell Cantina concept with an open kitchen environment in urban markets. In 2020, we introduced the Go Mobile concept much earlier than anticipated with the help of quick collaboration with franchisees just like Border Foods,” said Mike Grams, Taco Bell president and global COO. “Partnering with our franchisees to test new concepts is a huge unlock of learning for us. What we learn from the test of this new Defy concept may help shape future Taco Bell restaurants.”

Customers can interact directly with store associates through two-way audio and video technology. Taco Bell has already begun upgrading its store to meet higher drive-thru demand by launching its Go Mobile framework, which includes features such as dual drive-thrus with a dedicated mobile pickup lane, smart kitchen technology, mobile pickup shelves, kiosk ordering and a faster “bellhop” experience, CSA reported.

Taco Bell already has 13 Go Mobile restaurants built, with another 85 on the way. The Defy store is the latest concept under the Go Mobile category. Border Foods, which is one of the largest Taco Bell franchisees in the U.S., partnered with Vertical Works in 2020 to start creating the Defy concept.

See the full story at Chain Store Age.