In Urban Push, Taco Bells Add Alcohol, Drop Drive-Thru

The Tex-Mex chain hopes to lure city-dwelling millennials to “cantinas” with a new look and feel. Here’s the scoop.

Taco Bell is hoping to redefine the fast-food experience and people’s perception of the chain with its new cantina restaurants.

The Tex-Mex restaurant chain is “dropping the drive-thru, opening its kitchens and using technology” to create new urban market cantinas, according to a company statement.

The first Taco Bell Cantina will open in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood on Sept. 22, shortly followed by a second in San Francisco later this month.

“These new urban restaurants are a critical part of our growth strategy in markets where people experience our brand differently,” said Taco Bell Corp. CEO Brian Niccol. “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings, and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”

The Taco Bell Cantinas are embracing technology with digital menu boards, television monitors and an option for customers to order and pay for their food with a mobile app.

In addition to the full Taco Bell menu, the new cantinas will feature a tapas-style offering of sharable appetizers in the evenings, as well as booze.

The planned San Francisco cantina will offer beer and wine. But Chicago’s Wicker Park cantina will also sell sangria and Twisted Freezes, which are similar to frozen margaritas and spiked with rum, tequila or vodka.

Taco Bell’s move to selling alcohol is not only an attempt to lure millennial consumers to its restaurants, it’s also another way for Taco Bell to better compete with Chipotle, which already features open kitchens and serves alcohol, Money reports.

Taco Bell said the cantinas are answering customers’ calls for “urbanization.”

“We’re trying to provide restaurants where they work, live and play that can be accessed easily on foot, rather than the drive-thru,” said Meredith Sandland, Taco Bell’s chief development officer.

Now that booze is on the menu, being able to access the restaurants “on foot” is a good plan.

What do you think of Taco Bell’s planned cantina restaurants? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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