Some elements of the new store include:
Digital-Only Ordering: Electronic billboards line the streets of Times Square, which makes it only fitting kiosks inside the restaurant are equally as prominent, Taco Bell said. The restaurant’s 10 kiosks replace traditional analog menuboards.
Order Ahead Pickup Cubbies: Centered on convenience, this Cantina design highlights the pickup point. Not just that, but Taco Bell built a separate double-door entrance that allows customers to skip the traditional restaurant experience. Guests enter their order number on the touchscreen and grab their meal from one of 15 glowing cubbies.
New York, New Freeze: Taco Bell launched a new menu item to celebrate the opening, the “Bell Apple Freeze.” It’s a Green Apple Freeze swirled with cherry apple flavor for $3.59.
Souvenirs: Taco Bell is also loading up the store with merchandise to capitalize on the tourist-heavy location, including sauce packet keychains, pin sets, and pens. Customers can order these—like the food—directly via digital kiosks.
Historical landmark: Taco Bell housed the store inside the iconic Paramount Building, which was built 1926–1927 and originally served as headquarters and theater for the major motion picture company. Taco Bell incorporated the original golden entrance into the design, using it as the dedicated side entrance for mobile pickup orders.
Improved team member experience: Taco Bell’s typical Cantina elements—open kitchen and alcoholic drinks—will not just modernize the consumer experience, the brand said. It will also optimize and redeploy the role of the team member within the restaurant experience. Taco Bell did not provide further details, but it’s safe to assume this means more consumer-facing activities instead of order taking.
Taco Bell remains on track to have 10,000 restaurants globally this decade. It ended 2020 with 7,427, with 6,799 in the U.S. After opening a net of 64 restaurants in 2020, the company said 2021 will outpace last year’s growth.
Taco Bell’s same-store sales increased 1 percent in Q4, following a rise of 3 percent in Q3. For the year, the taco chain declined 1 percent.
Similar to its sister brands, KFC, Pizza Hut, and the Habit, Taco Bell’s digital performance elevated in 2020 with business reaching $1 billion. The channel mixed 12 percent in Q4, while delivery mixed in the high-single digits.
Taco Bell was also the first of the brands to test a new advanced POS system, which Yum! described as a modern, tablet-based application that’s completely customizable.