With mobile and contactless ordering becoming the new norm in 2020, Taco Bell is one chain that is looking to change its primary service method to the drive-thru. Many fast-food chains found having a sit-down dining room obsolete during the pandemic and the cost and labor to clean it became less profitable than having it was. With this, some new Taco Bell locations will include smaller dining rooms, kiosk-only locations, dual drive-thrus, and outdoor socializing areas.
However, the largest, most innovative changes to the traditional fast-food restaurant model are in the company’s upcoming test location in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The project, known as ‘Defy’, is in partnership with Minnesota-based design company, Vertical Works. The Defy joint collaboration between Taco Bell and Vertical works is a 3,000 sq ft, two-story restaurant set to be finished in summer 2022.
The structure takes an extremely non-traditional approach to the fast-food restaurant, as it has no dining room. This Taco Bell location will have four drive-thru lanes, where three are specifically for mobile and delivery pickup orders. These lanes will allow Taco Bell app users or third-party delivery drivers to skip the line to pick up their orders. These lanes will also have digital check-in screens so customers can sign in using their phone by scanning a custom displayed QR code. Using a proprietary lift system, the food will be lowered down from the kitchen above in a contactless manner.
Some users seem to be excited about the new ‘Defy’ location on Twitter, tweeting:
While others are critical about the further dehumanization of fast-food workers and lack of socialization, tweeting:
It is extremely interesting to see this new concept for fast food and we will see if other chains adopt a similar concept soon. This futuristic design reminds me somewhat of the movie Wall-E with how disconnected from human interaction it is. The implementation of technology and use of the mobile app ordering system is another interesting aspect and an innovative way to increase app downloads and usage for Taco Bell. The use of digital media has become so ingrained in our society that restaurants can exist that are almost exclusively mobile order only based.
Hiller, Kristen. “Taco Bell to Reinvent Drive-Thru Concept With Futuristic Restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota” 18, August 2021. ReBusiness Online, https://rebusinessonline.com/taco-bell-to-reinvent-drive-thru-concept-with-futuristic-restaurant-in-brooklyn-park-minnesota/
Dominko, Mura. “5 Changes You’ll See at Taco Bell’s New Locations” 24 March 2021. Eat This, Not That!, https://www.eatthis.com/news-taco-bell-new-restaurant-designs/