Taco Bell is wrapping up changes to its new streamlined menu, which it says will make room of new innovation as well as create a faster and more seamless experience for guests.

“We’re constantly evaluating ways to provide a more efficient restaurant experience, and have already begun to see progress from streamlining our menu,” Mike Grams, Taco Bell president, global COO, said in a statement. “While we know fans may be understandably sad to see some of their favorites go, this evolution of our menu truly paves the way for fresh new ideas. The creativity and innovation in our kitchen hasn’t slowed down at all, and we look forward to rolling out new fan favorites.”

Starting November 5, the brand will debut four fresh items—two national, one regional, and one pilot in Knoxville, Tennessee—and say goodbye to three long-running features.

Departing Taco Bell’s menu will be the Mexican Pizza, Pico de Gallo, and Shredded Chicken.

Taco Bell said removing the first will help it leave a lighter footprint since the Mexican Pizza’s packaging accounts for more than 7 million pounds of paperboard material per year in the U.S.

The brand acknowledged doing so could concern vegetarian guests, however. “Our menu remains highly customizable, and we encourage anyone looking for a vegetarian alternative to swap out any meat for our original plant-based proteins—black and pinto beans,” the company said.

It also dropped a hint: “And who knows, you may see additional plant-based alternatives at Taco Bell in the near future.”

With the removal of the Mexican Pizza combo, a classic Taco Bell combo will return. Combo No. 8 will now feature three Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme with a large drink for $6.99.

With Pico de Gallo, Taco Bell is swapping in fresh diced tomatoes. Guests can still order Fresco Style. It will just mean replacing nacho cheese sauce, shredded cheese, mayo-based sauces, and low-fat sour cream with tomatoes. “Fresco style remains a great option to reduce calories and fat, or to make an existing vegetarian item vegan,” Taco Bell said.

Shredded chicken is exiting as a protein option, and along with it, the Shredded Chicken Soft Taco, Shredded Chicken Burrito, and Shredded Chicken Quesadilla Melt. All are leaving November 5.

Taco Bell suggested the classic Chicken Quesadilla and new Chicken Chipotle Melt as alternatives.

Andy's Frozen Custard Exterior At NightMountain Mike's Exterior

Speaking of the Chicken Chipotle Melt, it’s one of the national adds coming November 5, starting at $1. A permanent fixture to Taco Bell’s Cravings Value Menu, the product features marinated all-white meat grilled chicken, creamy chipotle sauce, and Cheddar cheese rolled and melted together.

The other nationwide product will be a Dragonfruit Freeze. It’s a tropical frozen beverage swirled with a burst of dragonfruit flavor, Taco Bell said. And it’s showing up a bit sooner—September 24, complete with a flat lid (same with all Taco Bell freezes) to deliver on contactless service.

Taco Bell also crafted a new and improved Green Sauce recipe, it said, which includes flavors of fire roasted green chilies, pureed jalapeno, and hatch green chilies. This will unroll via regional launch in select markets starting November 5.

Lastly, Taco Bell plans to test a previous fan-favorite—the Quesalupa—in Knoxville starting September 24. It’s expected to expand nationwide sometime next year. The Quesalupa is a classic chalupa shell stuffed with a cheese blend of pepper jack and Mozzarella.

Taco Bell said the changes are the final phase of its 2020 menu revamp. It noted some items removed from menuboards can still be ordered: The Quesarito (available digitally via Taco Bell’s mobile app); and the 7-Layer-Burrito (also a digital-exclusive option).

Taco Bell first announced in July that it would remove 12 items August 13 in an effort to simplify operations and boost efficiency amid a COVID-19 landscape. It said the evolved menu approached stemmed from “months of analyzing the new way we are running our restaurants.”

“With safety top of mind, we want to ensure an easy and fast ordering experience of our guests and team members,” Taco Bell said.

To the speed point, CEO David Gibbs said the brand boosted drive-thru speed of service 18 seconds in Q2, year-over-year, and served an additional 4.8 million cars. Fiscal year to date, it was up 15 seconds.

The brand said the changes will leave room for new fan favorites, continued progress in categories such as plant-based diets, and opportunities to bring back classics as LTOs.

In August, the chain also unveiled a new concept called “Taco Bell Go Mobile,” designed for customers ordering ahead through Taco Bell’s mobile app. It features a dual drive thru and smaller footprint, as well as curbside pickup and “bellhops, which are concierge service of employees that take orders via tablet outside the restaurant.

Fast Food, Menu Innovations, Story, Taco Bell