A representation of Taco Bell's Go Mobile restaurant design
Source: Taco Bell
Taco Bell unveiled its latest restaurant design on Thursday, which aims to encourage customers to order their nachos and burritos in advance and keep transit times short as the coronavirus pandemic has a lasting impact on consumer behavior.
The pandemic has caused many restaurant chains, including Starbucks, Shake Shack, and Chipotle Mexican Grill, to rethink their designs or accelerate changes already in progress.
The increasing use of drive-through lanes, online orders and deliveries in recent months has put the company under pressure. In the second quarter of Taco Bell, an additional 4.8 million cars were serviced via thoroughfares year over year, although sales in the same store were down 8%.
The latest design from the Yum Brands chain includes two drive-through lanes, one of which is dedicated to picking up orders via the mobile app. This follows a trend that Chipotle has set with its "Chipotlanes".
"We have many franchisees interested in adding through capacity," said Mike Grams, Taco Bell Global's chief operating officer.
The new "Go Mobile" design also offers parking spaces for contactless pick-up at the roadside and interior shelves for submitting digital orders. The size of the dining rooms varies depending on the market.
An illustration of a Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurant
Source: Taco Bell
But it's not just the exterior and dining rooms of Taco Bell that will change. The kitchens will be equipped with technology that shows employees the quickest way to order and the easiest way to collect the food for customers. Gramm compared it to air traffic control at an airport.
"The customer is still in control, but we're helping them," he said.
Customers who choose the suggested pick-up method will earn more points in the Taco Bell loyalty program.
Two new company-owned locations with two thoroughfares, high-tech kitchens and other innovations are to be opened in the first three months of 2021. According to Grams, Taco Bell plans to retrofit existing restaurants with the new design and functionality, with franchisees building their own versions.
"Anywhere you have cars, vehicles and delivery access – these restaurants play a role in both the suburbs and the city," Grams said.
The chain will incorporate the Go Mobile design in traditional Taco Bell locations as well as in smaller urban restaurants and more upscale cantinas.