Taco Bell Debuts A Digital Drive-Thru Concept, Says It’s The Future Of Fast Food

Taco Bell seems to always be in the headlines. Whether they’re taking away fan favorites from their menu or adding them back after customer petitions, Taco Bell is a headline-grabbing company.

Now, the Mexicanish fast-food company is in the news for its recent announcement of a new concept for its drive-thru restaurants. According to the company, they’re looking to “defy norms and define the future” with a new four-lane practically automated system that will bring it into the 21st century. But what exactly is the brand planning and how will it affect us customers?

Taco Bell has big plans for their restaurants in a world post-COVID.

Taco Bell is breaking ground on an entirely new concept that the company hopes to implement around the country. Dubbed as ‘Taco Bell Defy,’ the restaurant will be the first-of-its-kind, with a two-story, 3,000 square-foot location (the first location being built in Minnesota) that offers four lanes for drive-thru service, according to a news release.

According to the press release, three lanes will be dedicated to mobile or delivery order pickups, allowing people ordering from the app to “skip the line.”

Customers will be able to check-in digitally by scanning a unique QR code, and food will be sent down to customers from the kitchen contactless on the restaurant’s second floor through a wild network of elevators and conveyor belts, similar to systems used in bank drive-thrus.

There will be an additional lane available for regular ordering, with two-way video and audio communication for customers to interact with employees.

“Partnering with our franchisees to test new concepts is a huge unlock of learning for us,” Mike Grams, President and Global COO of Taco Bell said in the press release. “What we learn from the test of this new Defy concept may help shape future Taco Bell restaurants.”

This is hardly the first time Taco Bell has changed up its restaurant game.

For years now, Taco Bell (which is based in Irvine, CA) has been experimenting with new formats, new menus, and new ideas. But now the company is focused on streamlining its restaurant service – especially following the pandemic which places an emphasis on contactless systems.

This new ‘Defy’ design comes just months after the brand introduced Taco Bell Go Mobile, which offers a smaller store with double drive-thrus — with one dedicated to mobile orders — and curbside pickup with help from a concierge team of “Bellhops.” So far, Taco Bell has 13 Go Mobile locations built and another 85 in the pipeline, with Defy as the latest in that format category.

Before that came the more socially oriented Taco Bell Cantina locations, with open kitchens and often serving alcohol. These giant locations popped up in urban centers around the world – with the most recent opening up in early 2021 in the heart of Manhattan.

“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 chief operating officer, in a statement. “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.”

What do you think? Is this concept going to help change the world of fast food?

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