Taco Bell unveiled a new restaurant format intended to make things quick and convenient for mobile and drive-thru customers.
The quick-serve eatery’s new "Taco Bell Go Mobile" concept, which will debut in the first quarter of 2021, is designed to enhance the digital and drive-thru experience for customers. It comes as online ordering and drive-thrus have skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic. Taco Bell said it served an additional 4.8 million cars through its drive-thrus in the second quarter compared with the same time a year ago. (In December, Chipotle unveiled a digital-friendly restaurant design.)
The new Taco Bell format features two drive-thru lanes, including a new priority pick-up lane with rapid service for customers who have ordered online via the Taco Bell app. The new lane will supplement the traditional lane. (Customers can still walk into the restaurant and order at the counter.)
The restaurants will be outfitted with smart kitchen technology that is integrated with the brand’s app. It will detect when customers have arrived and alert them to the quickest route for pick-up: curbside, the express lane or carry-out.
In addition, Taco Bell Go Mobile also will offer contactless curbside pick-up for customers. And to streamline the customer experiences even further, the eateries will also include tablet ordering in drive-thrus, which along with curbside pickup, will be operated by a “concierge service” of employee "bellhops."
At 1,325 sq. ft., Go Mobile locations will feature a much smaller footprint compared to the average 2,500-sq.-ft. Taco Bell. It will offer indoor seating, but on a limited basis. Locations that are in high drive-thru traffic areas may have less seating than those with high foot traffic.
“With demand for our drive-thru at an all-time high, we know adapting to meet our consumers rapidly changing needs has never been more important," said Taco Bell President, Global COO, Mike Grams, president, global COO, Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands. "The Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurant concept is not only an evolved physical footprint, but a completely synchronized digital experience centered around streamlining guest access points. For the first time, our guests will have the ability to choose the pick-up experience that best fits their needs, all while never leaving the comfort of their cars.”
Taco Bell said it has already begun incorporating some of the new concept’s features in existing restaurants, where average drive-thru wait times are down by 15 seconds since the first quarter of the year.