Taco Bell's Rolling Out New Dine-In, Drive-Thru & Digital Restaurants

Who doesn't want to down Chalupas by the fire pit?

Courtesy of Taco Bell
Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell may have tested our trust last year with the ultimate betrayal—aka removing its beloved Mexican Pizza from the menu—but the Chalupa slinger has spent the months following trying to make it up to us. It even brought back its discontinued potatoes. Now, the fast food chain is unveiling new restaurant concepts to make our dining experience that much better. 

On Tuesday, Taco Bell announced plans for 1,000 new restaurants globally—with all-new design formats to enhance your taco devouring experience. 

"Prioritizing our development plans continues to be a major focus for 2021, especially as we look towards building our next 1,000 restaurants," Taco Bell's President and Global COO Mike Grams said in a statement. "Our restaurant portfolio continues to rapidly evolve, striking a crucial balance between being technology-forward and social-oriented. Even amid the challenging pandemic, we are continuing to grow due in large part to the strength in our franchise partnerships as well as the flexible formats we offer."

Courtesy of Taco Bell

Earlier this year, T-Bell introduced its first-ever drive-thru Cantina in Danville, California, complete with a fire pit and game area that basically looks like the backyard of our dreams—only better because there are Crunchwrap Supremes involved.

"I've been in the real estate and development business for decades," President of Diversified Restaurant Group SG Ellison, who's teamed up with the chain for the new restaurant concepts, said in the statement. "The partnership we have with Taco Bell is unique—the brand empowers us franchisees with both autonomy and support, which has allowed my business to not just build traditional restaurants, but create destinations such as our flagship Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas, as well as our Cantinas in Pacifica and now Danville."

The company plans to continue its focus on destination restaurants like this one and digital-only stores. For example, it's working on opening a location in Manhattan that will be focused around self-serve kiosks for a "completely digital yet in-person experience."

There's also the chain's "Go Mobile" store concept, which prioritizes drive-thru lanes over dine-in space. These locations, which Taco Bell started testing late last year, focus on improving drive-thru order speeds with curbside pickup, tablet ordering, and concierge service team members, known as "bellhops" (get it?). The company plans to have as many as 1,000 bellhops fielding orders by this summer.

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.