With New Drive-Thru Concept, Taco Bell Doubles The Double Lane

Taco Bell Drive-Thru

When it comes to redesigning restaurants for the omnichannel future, Taco Bell understands the assignment. Following the opening of the chain’s digital-only ordering kiosk-filled store in Times Square in the spring, the company announced Thursday (Aug. 12) that it will soon break ground on its Taco Bell Defy design, set to open in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota in the summer of 2022.

Taco Bell drive thru

Image courtesy of Taco Bell

Related news: Taco Bell’s New Times Square Store Has Digital Focus, Dedicated Pickup Area

Omnichannel Integration No. 1: Mostly MobileThe experience is fully integrated with the chain’s mobile app. Three out of four of the drive-thru lanes will be dedicated to picking up mobile or delivery orders.

Omnichannel Integration No. 2: Contactless Check-InAfter placing their orders, customers will be able to scan a mobile QR code at the restaurant’s check-in screens.

Omnichannel Integration No. 3: Tech-Enabled Food Elevators Once the customer has checked in, the food will be sent down from the two-story restaurant’s top floor from its “bell-evator.” Audio and video technology at these lift systems will allow customers to communicate with staff in the kitchen above.

The concept was created in partnership with design company Vertical Works Inc. and franchisee Border Foods. As Taco Bell president and global chief operating officer Mike Grams told PYMNTS in an interview in the spring, “We’re working closely with our franchisees to think leaps ahead of others in order to offer various restaurant formats that facilitate the desired dining experience for every individual.”

Taco Bell

Image courtesy of Taco Bell

See also: Taco Bell President: ‘Restaurants Of The Future’ Will Tap Targeted Experiences

The Double-Lane Double-Down

This restaurant is perhaps the most future-minded instance we’ve seen so far of the industry-wide trend of adding mobile ordering lanes to drive-thru restaurants. Take, for instance, Chipotle’s Chipotlanes, mobile drive-thru lanes, which the chain first launched at the end of 2019 — prescient timing. The chain had 244 Chipotlanes by the end of Q2 2021.

Read more: New Chipotle Stores To Feature Drive-Thrus, Walk-Up Windows

“We now consider that that digital drive-thru of the future,”  Chipotle Chief Restaurant Officer Scott Boatwright told Karen Webster in a recent interview, as part of PYMNTS’ ConnectedEconomy™ series. “And I know there are a lot of brands today that are larger that have your traditional drive-thru experience that are entrenched … and I think they’re going to struggle.”

Related news: Chipotle Moves Beyond The Burrito To Connect Consumers With New Experiences

Additionally, Panera Bread recently announced a design that features a dual-lane drive-thru with one lane dedicated to the chain’s Rapid Pick-Up online orders. Plus, Pizza Hut announced in March that it was launching a “Hut Lane” for digital order pickup at 1,500 restaurants.

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Pizza Hut Will Add ‘Hut Lane’ Drive-Thru At 1,500 Locations  

New Data: Average Quick Service Restaurant Now Takes Up To 75 Pct Of Orders Remotely

Data from the PYMNTS 2021 Restaurant Readiness Index finds that 40 percent of consumers believe that the ability to pick up orders at a drive-thru will be key to driving restaurants’ long-term success. Additionally, the study found that, as of April 2021, 31 percent of all restaurants offered this ability — 57 percent of top-performing restaurants, and only 16 percent of bottom performers. The data have spoken: drive-thrus drive sales.