(BY: DEVON WALSH, FOOD & WINE) – Who knew? Around 55 to 70 percent of Taco Bell’s revenue comes from orders purchased at the chain’s drive-thru windows. Which is why it’s rather shocking that the Tex-Mex brand plans to open hundreds (300 to 350 locations to be somewhat exact) of new drive-thru-less cantinas by 2022. More specifically, the chain wants to make its presence known in urban areas.
Zeroing in on big cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York (including a plan to open at least 50 locations around the city’s five boroughs). The new-and-improved “urban in-line” or “cantina-style” stores to come will be designed to express the local vibes with artwork, open kitchens, and digital menu boards.
Even more exciting, there will be booze! People everywhere, but in cities especially, like to go out for a drink. The majority of the new “urban in-line” locations will serve beer, wine, sangria, and Twisted Freezes, aka slushies with tequila, rum, or vodka. Come to think of it, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch with a tequila Twisted Freeze sounds like the perfect pairing.
“One of the cool things happening in America right now is the revitalization of urban areas, and we’re seeing millennials moving into downtown areas,” Mike Grams, Taco Bell’s chief operating officer says. Currently, there are already roughly 6,000 Taco Bell restaurants nationwide, but expanding the urban footprint, in particular, makes sense. The hipper vibe and smaller scale of these cantinas highlight another point, that the chain “isn’t afraid to try new things,” according to Grams.
Always attempting to prove that it likes to take chances, and “think outside the bun,” Taco Bell recently featured a burrito with spicy popping crystals, collaborated with Cheetos on a quesadilla and rethought the taco shell game with a “naked” taco made with a fried egg shell as well as a fried chicken taco shell.