Thursday, March 5, 2020 -- After redefining the quick service restaurant (QSR) experience in 2015 with its urban Cantina concept, Taco Bell today announced plans to test new “fast social” restaurants that will once again push the boundaries of both the industry and the guest experience. The development plans—including new Cantinas and conversions of traditional Taco Bell restaurants—are one of the brand’s key growth strategies to becoming a $20 billion brand with 10,000 restaurants globally in this decade.
Initially known for being a staple in suburban communities, Taco Bell successfully made its way into metropolitan cities with the introduction of its urban-inline restaurants. With this new wave of growth came a more simplified and modern restaurant experience, bringing forward an atmosphere as unique as the community it serves. Cantinas reflect fast-paced environments and consumers with tech-forward innovations like kiosks and digital menu boards. Since unveiling its first Cantina in 2015, Taco Bell has introduced more than 60 urban restaurants across the nation.
“By tapping into cultural insights, we’ve learned that our customers want to engage with the brand in a way that amplifies their social nature,” said Taco Bell President, Global Chief Operating Officer Mike Grams. “We are once again pushing the boundaries of the traditional QSR dining experience by setting the stage for our ‘fast-social’ restaurants, which introduce dynamic dining rooms and lean into social gatherings.”
Fans can expect to experience the most technology-forward Taco Bell to date with the brand’s Times Square location, set to open fall 2020. The upcoming New York Cantina will utilize new digital features that not only allows for a smooth ordering experience but showcases digital moments throughout the restaurant like never before. The brand is also gearing up to unveil another restaurant that falls into its fast-social concept, this time centered around gaming. By the end of Q3, fans of both Taco Bell and gaming will be able to step into the San Ramon, California Cantina, sit down for a video game showdown amongst friends, and indulge in their favorite menu items all at the same time.
Finally, Taco Bell has also announced a test to convert its traditional restaurants into Cantinas. With the drive thru representing more than 70 percent of its business, the brand is turning to the untapped potential in its existing dining rooms for creative ways to continue growing. The test will convert three traditional suburban Taco Bells into Cantina restaurants. From there, the Taco Bell team will evaluate the performance and begin to apply the successes across their 7,000 restaurants.