The Taco Bell of the future is nigh

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They say the only thing constant is change, and right now, the pandemic is forcing the entire restaurant industry to condense various long-term strategies into a period of a few months. Taco Bell—which has spent decades fine-tuning its tactics to win the impending Franchise Wars—has officially announced its plans for surviving and thriving in the new restaurant world order: smaller stores, more drive-thrus, and a greater reliance on mobile ordering.

MarketWatch reports the company plans to launch a new concept in the first quarter of 2021: Taco Bell Go Mobile. The restaurants will be smaller, with footprints that have about 50% the square footage of the existing ones we all know and love. These locations will also feature two drive-thru lanes to service customers using the Taco Bell app, as well as offer curbside pickup and “bellhops” to help customers order via tablets. Some of these features have already been incorporated into some of Taco Bell’s existing restaurants, and since early 2020, the average drive-thru wait time has been reduced by 15 seconds. That number might not seem exciting, but when you consider that more than 70% of Taco Bell’s pre-coronavirus business was done at the drive-thru window, the cumulative effect of those 15 seconds means each Taco Bell restaurant could potentially service hundreds, if not thousands, of additional customers every day. That’s going to be a very big deal in the future, when all restaurants are Taco Bell.