Business

Taco Bell is getting a new look

FILE - This Friday, May 23, 2014, file photo, shows the sign at a Taco Bell in Mount Lebanon, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(CNN) — Taco Bell fans will soon see a new restaurant design across the United States.

The restaurant chain announced Tuesday that it’s expanding its “Go Mobile” restaurant remodel nationwide, which has dual drive-thrus and smaller dining rooms, with plans for at least 30 locations by the end of 2021. Taco Bell debuted the design last year in response to the pandemic, which changed fast food customers’ habits — potentially permanently.

The most significant difference between the new and old restaurant designs is the size. Taco Bell is cutting back on dining room seating and adding a second drive-thru lane dedicated to pick-up orders made on its app. Inside, customers will also see more digital kiosks in addition to human staff that will still take orders.

There’s also curbside pickup for contactless pickups and “bellhops”— masked employees stationed outside taking customers’ orders on digital tablets. Up to 1,000 bellhops will be hired by the summer, Taco Bell said.

The first restaurant remodel with “Go Mobile” features opened in Oklahoma last year. Taco Bell said it’s adding more of them because they “excited franchisees.”

Taco Bell plans to increase the number of locations globally by roughly 35% to 10,000 restaurants within this decade.

“Our restaurant portfolio continues to rapidly evolve, striking a crucial balance between being technology-forward and social-oriented,” said Mike Grams, Taco Bell’s president and global chief operating officer, in a press release. “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.”

Other new designs announced Thursday include its first-ever drive-thru Cantina in Danville, California. The restaurant is designed to be a destination for Taco Bell fans because it has an outdoor fire pit and game area and a full-bar for dine-in guests.

About 30 of these locations are currently open, but adding a drive-thru to its newest location shows the “prioritization of drive-thru service during the pandemic,” it said.

The designs are in response to the changing ways consumers began ordering fast food since the pandemic’s start. Digital orders and drive-thrus exploded in popularity for basically every chain, including Chipotle, McDonald’s and Starbucks.

Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum Brands, said in its earnings call last month that its US restaurants had a “record-breaking drive-thru performance” and that consumer demand for the feature is at an “all time high.”

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