Culture

New Taco Bell designs capitalize on your crushed Chipotle dreams

Remember when everyone went to Chipotle? It was the hottest fast-food craze on the market, even Hilary Clinton made sure to swing by the restauraunt on her campaign trailer. Well the new Taco Bell designs hope to attract the same star-power.

Then Chipotle got hit with an E. coli scare, which forced the chain to close dozens of stores and the only social-media headlines we read were how people were getting sick. The brand eventually recovered, offering free burritos to anyone that would dare take them, but never reached the same epic-high that it once obtained.

Well one man’s tragedy is another man’s triumph, and it seems Taco Bell might be using all of this Chipotle downtime to lure you back into its taco-heart. The new Taco Bell designs certainly have a Chipotle feel to them, and we can’t blame Taco Bell for wanting to get rid of those terrible plastic seats.

A “classic architectural design” is coming to Taco Bell. The company announced a new line of restaurant designs as part of its expansion plans to open 2,000 new restaurants by 2022.

“Building new restaurants is a key component to the overall growth and evolution of Taco Bell,” said Brian Niccol, Chief Executive Officer at Taco Bell Corp. “Great design, Great Food and Great Economics is at the heart of our growth.”

The four designs will make their debut in Orange County, California this summer through existing restaurant remodels, with broader roll-out planned in 2016, including plans to expand in urban locations with the Taco Bell Cantina concept.

These are the four concepts (as described by Taco Bell)

Heritage: Inspired by its culinary roots in Mexican-inspired food with a twist, this style is 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.

Modern Explorer: This rustic modern style is a refined version of the brand’s Cantina Explorer restaurants and can easily fit into a suburban or rural environment. Inspired by the farms that make our food, this style reinforces Taco Bell’s commitment to the best ingredients, authenticity and transparency of materials and dining preparation.

California Sol: Inspired by Taco Bell’s California roots and the California lifestyle, this design blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor. It’s a celebration of dining al fresco and embraces a laid back beachy feel both inside and out.

Urban Edge: This design represents an eclectic mix of international and street style done the Taco Bell way. This style is inspired by timeless design married with cutting-edge elements of the urban environment.

“While all four restaurant designs each have a different contextual personality, they all share a commonality in expressing Taco Bell’s brand like never before,” stated Marisa Thalberg, Chief Marketing Officer at Taco Bell Corp. “From the open kitchen that showcases our freshly prepared foods to the community tables designed for friends to hang out, each of these formats fosters a modern, unique experience.”

“It’s no longer one size fits all,” stated Deborah Brand, VP of Development and Design at Taco Bell Corp. “Consumers are looking for a localized, customized and personalized experiences that reflect the diversity of their communities – the flexibility in bringing these four designs to life gives us just that.”

The store will feature LED lights and energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment. All local California locations will leverage reclaimed wood from California ports and, where possible, newly built restaurants will incorporate more sustainable landscape features such as solar panel canopies over drive-thrus and reclaimed water for irrigation.

In 2015 Taco Bell opened over 275 new restaurants, remodeled about 600 more, and is currently on pace to exceed both numbers in 2016. Of the 2,000 restaurants planned to be built by 2022, 200 will be urban locations – a typically underrepresented geographic area for the brand.

In 2015, Taco Bell also opened up the first of its two “Cantina” restaurants in San Francisco and Chicago. These urban concept restaurants have five things in common that differentiate them from standard Taco Bell restaurants: décor, localized artwork, open kitchen layout, open plating and shareable menus. Additionally, Cantina restaurants may also serve alcoholic beverages, which can include beer, wine, sangria and twisted Freezes.

Atlanta is currently being explored for the next urban development, while numerous cities across the U.S. are under consideration for future locations. These include major metropolitan areas from New York, Boston and Ohio to smaller cities with revitalizing downtown areas like Berkeley, Austin and Fayetteville.