Taco Bell's New Drive-Thru Concept Puts the Kitchen Above Your Car
Last August, Taco Bell announced that it would be opening some new-look restaurants that better accommodated those of us who'd like to collect our Doritos Locos combos without interacting with anyone else. Each Taco Bell Go Mobile location would have double drive-thru lanes, with one traditional drive-thru for on-site ordering and pickup, and a priority lane that would be dedicated to quick pickups for orders placed online or through the Taco Bell app.
"The priority lane is created for the emergence of digital demands — the ability to put the customer experience in their hands [where they can] order before they get to the parking lot," Mike Grams, Taco Bell's president and global chief operating officer, told Nations Restaurant News at the time.
But this week, Taco Bell revealed that it's taking that Go Mobile idea two steps — and two additional drive-thru lanes — even further. The California-based chain will soon begin work on a 3,000-square-foot, two-story concept that it's calling Taco Bell Defy. The Defy restaurant will have four drive-thru lanes, and three of them will be specifically for mobile or delivery orders. (The company is calling it "the fastest way ever to get Taco Bell," which is honestly the kind of innovation we're here for.)
According to a press release, mobile customers will scan a QR code to confirm their order, then they'll collect it from a contactless "proprietary lift system" that beams it down from the elevated kitchen on the second floor. (There is also two-way audio and video, should customers need to communicate with Taco Bell team members on their way through one of the pickup lanes.)
Taco Bell Defy will be smaller than some existing Taco Bell restaurants, but its quadruple drive-thrus and focus on quick skip-the-line order pickups are expected to help it serve even more customers than a regular restaurant.
"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," Grams said. "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."
As of this writing, 13 Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurants have been completed, and another 85 are "in the pipeline." The first Defy restaurant will be built in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities. Taco Bell expects construction to begin later this month, and Defy is scheduled to open sometime next summer.