Taco Bell is looking to take its upscale Cantina brand to more markets, and another new city is on the list. Last week, the chain announced expansion plans for Ohio, and now it's been revealed Columbus will be the first city in the Buckeye State to get one of the restaurants. Columbus Underground reports the Cantina outpost will open sometime in 2017.
When it begins service, the Columbus location initially won't serve alcohol, a departure from the model at the first two restaurants in Chicago and San Francisco. But, Taco Bell vice president of development and design Deborah Brand tells CU boozy beverages may make their way to the menu, eventually. Taco Bell Cantina's alcoholic exploits focus on "Twisted Freezes," spiked frozen drinks that include vodka, tequila, or rum. A selection of beer, wine, and sangria may be available as well.
The Columbus Cantina replaces a previously existing Taco Bell location in the city, and it will take up prime residence near Ohio State University's campus.
"The Taco Bell Cantinas are part of our planned expansion into new markets that will reflect the millennial trend of seeking more urban environments to live, work, and play," Brand told CU. "The Columbus location, being on the ground level of a student housing and a retail project near the university, will do just that."
The expansion of Taco Bell's Cantina brand, plus the introduction of four new restaurant designs, is part of the company's efforts to shed the perception that it's simply a cheap option for fast food Tex-Mex. Cantina outposts are currently in the works for large and small "urban locations" such as Atlanta; Austin; Berkeley, Calif.; Boston; Fayetteville, Ark.; and New York.
Update: A spokesperson for Yum! Brands, Taco Bell's parent company, tells Eater Taco Bell Cantina is looking into the possibility of selling alcohol at its Columbus location. That decision has not been finalized.