Fast food chain Taco Bell as opened its first ‘Defy’ restaurant. The new digital-driven drive-thru restaurant prioritizes ordering via an app.
The two-story Taco Bell Defy restaurant concept opened in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota on June 7.
Is the New Floating Taco Bell the Fast Food Franchise of the Future?
For Taco Bell franchise owners, or anyone considering opening a Taco Bell franchise or who owns a restaurant and is looking for ways to innovate, the arrival of the new drive-thru experience provides valuable lessons in customer service innovation and how to help a fast food venue stand out and appeal to the demands for speed and convenience from modern customers.
Technology to Speed Up Ordering
The new restaurant uses technology to speed up the ordering and collection of food. Mike Grams, President of Taco Bell, commented on how the concept is the restaurant of the future.
“For decades we’ve been committed to providing a fast, safe and friendly drive-thru experience. Now with our bold goal of creating a two minute or less drive-thru experience for customers of this concept, Taco Bell Defy is the future,” said Grams.
Mobile Order and Third-Party Delivery Friendly
The design of the restaurant is aimed to be more mobile order and third-party delivery friendly. It boasts four drive-thru lanes, one of which is solely a traditional drive-thru, with a speaker at a kiosk. The other three lanes prioritize customers who order via the app. These customers check-in, ‘skip the line’, scan a QR code and then pick up their food.
The kitchen is positioned on top of the two-storey building and orders are delivered to customer via a “vertical lift” to their cars.
With multiple drive-thru lanes, Defy aims to shorten the ordering process to two minutes or less.
Third-party delivery drivers working for the likes of Uber Eats, GrubHub and Door Dash, will have their distinct lane to improve the speed of the delivery of food.
Franchise owner Border Foods says the Defy location “boasts many features that could show up in future Taco Bell restaurants in the US.”
‘Go Mobile’ Concept
The Taco Bell Defy is the latest in a number of design changes introduced to the brand’s sites. Prompted by the pandemic, the chain debuted a ‘Go Mobile’ concept in 2020, which reduced the size of dining rooms internally, boasted more digital kiosks, and featured two drive-thru lanes.
Post-pandemic, the popularity of digital kiosks and drive-thru lanes has soared, enabling customers to pick up food quickly with greater convenience.
Given such demand, Defy’s “floating restaurant” design may indeed be the fast food restaurant of the future. For Taco Bell franchise owners or anyone considering owning a Taco Bell franchise, the opening of the innovative restaurant in Minnesota confirms just how forward-thinking, customer-orientated and pioneering this Mexican quick style service restaurant brand really is.
It also provides invaluable lessons for the wider restaurant and fast food chain industry on the value of innovation, digitalizing and meeting customer demands for speed and convenience.
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Image: Taco Bell