Fast-casual dining is in the midst of a major boom, as young people in particular are being lured away from traditional drive-thru windows with promises of fresher and (at least seemingly) healthier food. Fast food chains are doing everything they can to keep up — and Taco Bell seems to think cozier, more upscale restaurants are the answer.
The Quesarito creator just unveiled four new store designs it's slated to begin testing this summer in Southern California, and its design team has clearly been spending a lot of time on Pinterest: Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood, and communal tables abound. (Or as Fast Company puts it, "Taco Bell has taken every cliché of interior design of the last decade and blended them into four new store designs.")
The first of the new designs is called Heritage, and hearkens back to the OG Taco Bells of yesteryear — or, as the company explains it, "a modern interpretation of Taco Bell’s original Mission Revival style characterized by warm white walls with classic materials in the tile and heavy timbers."
If the new designs — which are also intended to be more eco-friendly with LED lighting and more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems — prove to resonate with Taco Bell customers, expect to see a broader rollout later this year.
Another thing the chain's got up its sleeve: More locations of its Taco Bell Cantina concept, which in addition to open kitchens, free wifi, and "shareable" menu items, have the important distinction of serving alcohol in the form of boozy slushies or local craft beer. Cantina stores already exist in Chicago and San Francisco, and the company has plans for additional outlets in "urban locations"; Atlanta is next on the list, and New York, Boston, and Austin as well as Berkeley, Austin, Ohio, and Fayetteville, Arkansas are also mentioned.
The chain intends to open 2,000 new restaurants by 2022, ensuring that no one will be safe from the aroma of Doritos Locos tacos.