Need to Know
- Taco Bells plans to build out and convert more current locations into “Cantinas,” an urban, local, and digitally-forward restaurant style that focuses on improving the customer experience.
- Part of the transformation will include digital innovations like order-ahead kiosks and digital menu boards.
- Drive-through orders represent 70% of Taco Bell’s sales, so Taco Bell is hoping the upgrades will grow its sit-down experience.
- Cantinas are one of the brand’s key growth strategies to becoming a $20 billion brand with 10,000 restaurants globally in this decade.
- Taco Bell has introduced more than 60 urban restaurants across North America since opening its first in 2015.
- Kiosks can boost sales by up to 30% for quick-service restaurants.
Taco Bell began its “millennialization” in 2015 when it introduced a new social-friendly, digital-native “Cantina” concept for new urban locations. With a goal to become a $20 billion brand with 10,000 locations around the world, Taco Bell has updated, digitized, and modernized the customer experience and menu. The chain has also opened 60 more Cantinas in urban centers around the US.
The newest Cantina location in Times Square will be it’s most technology-forward Taco Bell to date, and will be open at the end of 2020.
“By tapping into cultural insights, we’ve learned that our customers want to engage with the brand in a way that amplifies their social nature,” said Taco Bell president and COO Mike Grams. “We are once again pushing the boundaries of the traditional QSR dining experience by setting the stage for our ‘fast-social’ restaurants, which introduce dynamic dining rooms and lean into social gatherings.”
With kiosks, digital menu boards, and AI personalization, Taco Bell is trying to convince a new generation of customers that Taco Bell has what they need. 2020 will also see a new Cantina open in San Ramone, California, which will be centered around gaming: customers can sit down for a video game showdown with friends while having lunch or dinner.
In 2015, Taco Bell’s past chief development officer, Meredith Sandland, said that the new, urban stores are all about responding to five societal trends at once: digitization, localization, urbanization, transparency, and green-friendly.
It appears that Taco Bell has stayed the course as it expands this modern dining concept by introducing recyclable consumer-facing packaging, becoming the number one quick-service restaurant for vegetarians, introducing more Cantinas to improve sit-down dining experiences, and opening more urban locations with local influences.
Taco Bell is now testing the Cantina format in suburban centres, with the hope that it’s wildly successful and it will be possible to expand that success across their 7,000 restaurants.