Building off what it started five years ago, Taco Bell plans to revamp its urban Cantina concept with new “fast-social” restaurants in New York and California.
The brand will open a Times Square location in the fall, which promises to be the most technology-forward Taco Bell to date. The company said the new Cantina will “utilize new digital features that not only allow for a smooth ordering experience but showcase digital moments throughout the restaurant like never before.”
The other fast-social unit, to open in San Ramon, California, will be based around gaming. Though the company didn’t give specific details, it did note that the unit will be open by the end of fall and will give customers the opportunity to play video games while ordering food.
“By tapping into cultural insights, we’ve learned that our customers want to engage with the brand in a way that amplifies their social nature,” said Mike Grams, Taco Bell president and global chief operating officer, in a statement. “We are once again pushing the boundaries of the traditional [quick-service restaurant] dining experience by setting the stage for our ‘fast-social’ restaurants, which introduce dynamic dining rooms and lean into social gatherings.”
In addition to those two new units, the brand will test a conversion of three traditional suburban Taco Bells into Cantinas and evaluate their performance.
Taco Bell opened its first urban Cantina concept in 2015 to attract a new generation of consumers and accelerate growth in metropolitan areas. The units have no drive thru. The amenities include alcoholic beverages, pick-up windows, open kitchens, shareable menu items, digital menuboards, communal tables, kiosks, open layouts, Wi-Fi, and outlets. Taco Bell has introduced about 30 Cantinas across the U.S. since 2015, part of about 60 urban in-line locations (Cantina units serve alcohol, while the others just feature a similar design). The company stated that its ultimate goal is to become a $20 billion brand with 10,000 restaurants around the world, and the Cantinas are one part of that strategy.