Taco Bell Shows the Future of Foodservice Innovation

Company opening frictionless drive-thru concept
Gina Acosta
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Taco Bell Shows the Future of Foodservice Innovation
Taco Bell Defy is currently scheduled to break ground in August 2021 and open its doors to the public by summer 2022.

Fast-food chain Taco Bell is breaking ground on a new drive-thru concept in Brooklyn Park, Minn., later this month that aims to redefine convenience in the pandemic era.

The new concept – "Taco Bell Defy" – is a two-story, 3,000-square-foot building with four drive-thru lanes, which the chain calls "the frictionless future of Taco Bell." The format reimagines the traditional drive-thru experience with four lanes, three of which are dedicated to mobile or delivery order pickups, providing fast, skip-the-line service for customers who order via the Taco Bell app and third-party delivery services. These three lanes will supplement one traditional lane, easing the flow of traffic and ensuring a speedy experience. All of this will help Taco Bell Defy's footprint, which is smaller or equal to existing store footprints, serve even more customers.

Digital check-in screens allow mobile order customers to scan in their order via a unique QR code, then pull forward for a pickup experience that defies gravity: food is delivered seamlessly and in a contactless manner via a proprietary lift system, while two-way audio and video technology lets customers interact directly with the team members above in real time. The elevated kitchen design will optimize and streamline operations for the benefit of both Taco Bell team members and customers.

"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's 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."

In August 2020, Taco Bell quickly evolved to deliver on changing consumer behaviors by launching the all-new Go Mobile framework, which enhances the digital and drive-thru experience for guests. With features like dual drive-thrus with a dedicated mobile pickup lane, smart kitchen technology, mobile pickup shelves, kiosk ordering and a faster "bellhop" experience, the concept has been a big hit. To date, there are 13 Go Mobile restaurants built and another 85 in the pipeline with Defy being the latest innovation under this category.

Taco Bell Defy is currently scheduled to break ground in August 2021 and open its doors to the public by summer 2022.

"We believe in big ideas and know that some of our best work comes from moments when we push the boundaries," said Michael Strommen, PD Instore's CEO. "We're excited by the opportunity Defy brings to the consumer. The design strategically blends technology and design to deliver the convenience of fast, craveable food without many of the challenges of traditional drive-thrus."

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