Concept to take advantage of increasing desire for contactless food ordering and pickup
Taco Bell is looking to put a futuristic, digital spin on fast food drive thru.
The popular Mexican restaurant chain is opening a new location in Brooklyn Park, Minn. called “Taco Bell Defy,” that will have four drive thru lanes and an emphasis on a fast, contactless, and digital customer service experience.
Three of the drive thru lanes will be dedicated to mobile and delivery pickups. Customers who order from the Taco Bell app or a third-party service will be able to skip the line entirely.
Construction is scheduled to break ground later in August, and the 3,000 square-foot, two-story restaurant is expected to be open to the public by next summer.
Taco Bell partnered with Vertical Works Inc. — which includes brand manufacturers WORKSHOP and PD Instore, along with construction firm Engelsma Construction — to design and construct the new concept.
Michael Strommen, CEO of PD Instore, said the idea behind Taco Bell Defy is to streamline the ordering process by taking advantage of new technology.
“We believe in big ideas and know that some of our best work comes from moments when we push the boundaries,” Strommen said. “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.”
Taco Bell Defy will also feature digital check-in screens that will allow customers who ordered through a mobile app to scan their order using a QR code. Their food will then be lowered to them from the second-floor kitchen using a lift system — in order to ensure no contact is made with an employee.
Customers will be able to speak to Taco Bell associates on kiosks by using a two-way audio system that also includes a video interface.
“We know that today’s consumer expects convenience and personalization, and our team excels at creating unique and memorable experiences,” said WORKSHOP founder Josh Hanson. “We developed the Defy concept to help Taco Bell and Border Foods meet consumer needs and deliver exceptional customer service in a brand new way.”
Taco Bell previously pushed the boundaries of what a fast-food restaurant looks like when it opened Taco Bell Cantina — which features an open kitchen, custom menu that includes shareable appetizers and alcoholic beverages — in 2015.
The company also launched 13 restaurants last year under the Go Mobile moniker, which featured dual drive-thrus, dedicated lanes for mobile pickups, kiosk ordering and mobile pickup shelves.
“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 Taco Bell President and Global COO Mike Grams. “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.”