IRVINE, Calif. – Taco Bell is trading in its one-size-fits all restaurant design for more modern upgrades. The chain, which is a unit of Yum! Brands Inc., will be testing four new design concepts as the company aims to open 2,000 new restaurants in 2016.
“It’s no longer one size fits all,” said Deborah Brand, vice president of Development and Design at Taco Bell. “Consumers are looking for localized, customized and personalized experiences that reflect the diversity of their communities — the flexibility in bringing these four designs to life gives us just that.”
The Heritage concept is a modern interpretation of Taco Bell’s original Mission-Revival restaurants, which featured a bell, an outdoor patio and fire pit. The new design is inspired by Taco Bell’s culinary roots in Mexican-inspired food with a twist.
Modern Explorer was developed to fit easily in suburban or rural settings. The design is characterized as a “rustic modern style” that is a more refined version of Taco Bell’s Cantina Explorer restaurants.
Inspired by the California lifestyle, the California Sol concept blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor by combining dining al fresco with a “laid-back beachy feel,” Taco Bell said.
Finally, Urban Edge is an eclectic mix of international and street style.
The new designs will debut in Orange County, California, over the summer, with a broader roll-out to follow later in the year. The company also plans to expand into more urban areas with the Taco Bell Cantina concept.
The new restaurant designs will incorporate LED lights, energy efficient heating and cooling equipment and more sustainable landscape features such as solar panel canopies over drive-thrus and reclaimed water for irrigation, where possible. All California locations will use reclaimed wood from ports.
“While all four restaurant designs each have a different contextual personality, they all share a commonality in expressing Taco Bell’s brand like never before,” CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. “From the open kitchen that showcases our freshly prepared foods to the community tables designed for friends to hang out, each of these formats fosters a modern, unique experience.”
Looking ahead, Taco Bell is currently on track to open and remodel more restaurants in 2016 compared to a year ago when the company opened more than 275 new restaurants and remodeled about 600 others. Two hundred restaurants will open in urban locations, which Taco Bell said is an underrepresented geographic area for the brand.
Taco Bell is considering Atlanta as the site of the company’s next urban development. Other cities under consideration include major metropolitan areas from New York, Boston and Ohio to smaller cities with revitalizing downtown areas like Berkeley, Austin and Fayetteville.
“Building new restaurants is a key component to the overall growth and evolution of Taco Bell,” said Brian Niccol, CEO. “Great design, great food and great economics is at the heart of our growth.”