It was a big year at Taco Bell – the Quesalupa was born and gave new meaning to the phrase “cheese-pull,” Our Taco Head Lens for Cinco de Mayo shattered Snapchat records, we counted 5,700,000 million ways to eat vegetarian at our restaurants, and then we topped it all off by debuting the Taco Bell Flagship restaurant – smack dab on the Vegas Strip.
As the year comes to an end, we look back at the memories that really made us proud. Without further ado, let’s recap the best Taco Bell moments of 2016. We’re sure you’ll be proud of us, too:
1. We were one of the first national QSR brands to source only whole cage-free eggs for our breakfast menu in all U.S. restaurants. Our eggs are now American Humane Certified, and approximately 500,000 hens each year will benefit from this change.
2. We announced that all the chicken served in our U.S. restaurants is raised without antibiotics important to human medicine.
3. We launched a first-of-its-kind scholarship, the Live Más Scholarship, specifically for the creators, dreamers, and innovators of the next generation. In 2016, we exceeded our $1MM goal and awarded $1.275MM to 270 young adults who didn’t fit the mold for traditional academic and athletic scholarships, including 50 of our own restaurant employees.
• We even showed up at this year’s Social Good Summit to talk about the need to support the passions and dreams of today’s youth on a global stage.
4. We introduced new store designs that not only better reflect their local community, but also help us leave a cleaner footprint. They’re Blueline certified and, on average, use about 35% less energy, 20% less water and reclaimed building materials; and capture run-off water and the sun’s energy on-site.
5. We opened six new Taco Bell urban concept restaurants - two in New York, three near college campuses (Loyola, Atlanta and Austin) and one in Las Vegas. These restaurants provide a unique experience – different from a standard Taco Bell restaurant – with distinctive décor, localized artwork, open kitchen layout, open plating and shareable menus. Additionally, the Vegas and Austin urban concept restaurants serve alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, sangria and twisted Freezes. Taco Bell has plans to open more urban concept restaurants in 2017 and beyond.
6. Investments in our stores don’t stop with the new ones. We’ve also updated nearly 1,000 existing Taco Bells in the US with more energy and water efficient measures:
• All our dining rooms now use LED lights, with more than 25,000 fixtures installed so far.
• Remodeled stores boast new air conditioning that results in 20% or better reduction in energy consumption.
7. Our industry-leading operational excellence ensures we minimize our food waste as much as possible; we go a step further by recycling our used cooking oil into valuable biodiesel and animal feed. In 2016, we put our energy into reimagining our packaging, using 100% United States manufactured paper bags made from 100% recyclable and sustainable raw material sources, and switching to more commonly recycled and reusable plastic sides containers.
So there you have it – our seven-pack combo of accomplishments we are most proud of in 2016. It’s been an amazing year, but don’t worry – we’re not stopping here. We’re even more excited about what we’re cooking up for 2017: Year of the Chicken (yes, that means Naked Chicken Chalupas, but also so much more).