If anything, the pandemic has taught many fast food chains that drive-thrus are indispensable to business, if not their saving grace. I mean, Applebee’s is even testing one, for crying out loud. Taco Bell has now revealed its newest restaurant design, set to break ground later this month in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and it would seem that the fast food giant isn’t just doubling down on the drive-thru idea—it’s quadrupling down. Four whole drive-thru lanes are built into the new concept. Trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News has the lowdown.
The new design will be called the “Taco Bell Defy,” as the company says it will “defy norms and define the future.” (Which makes sense, since we know Taco Bell will eventually win the franchise wars.) Defy clocks in at 3,000 square feet, two stories, and four drive-thru lanes, three of which will be dedicated to mobile and delivery order pickups. The defiant restaurant is scheduled to open next summer.
The Defy’s overall footprint is actually one of the smallest of all of Taco Bell’s building designs, and it’s primarily focused on customer volume and speed. Of course, there’s plenty of modern tech involved too; mobile customers will scan QR codes and have their food delivered to them with a contactless lift system. Two-way video and audio services will ensure there’s always contact between team members and customers throughout the transaction.
The design was developed in a joint partnership with Border Foods, a 35-year Taco Bell franchise operator. This will be Border Foods’ 230th Taco Bell location, and the Defy is being designed by a company called Vertical Works Inc., based out of Minneapolis.
Part of me is wondering if this will be noticeably faster than most fast food drive-thru experiences. All the food orders are going to funnel into the same kitchen no matter how many lanes there are, so the restaurant can only move as quickly as its cooks can. Adding more areas to pick up food won’t change how fast food moves out of the kitchen. The mock-up shown by Nation’s Restaurant News also shows a building with tiny depressing windows, which can’t be any good for kitchen staff morale, either. I guess we’ll see how this all works out next year. I mean...it looks cool, I guess?