Taco Bell is ramping up growth. By the end of 2018, the brand plans to add 100 more U.S. restaurants. The YUM! Brands chain opened 90 so far in the U.S. this year and plan to open 1,000 total domestically by 2022.
In this expansion, the brand is putting an emphasis on the Northeast—New York City, especially—and on its new, hipper concepts Taco Bell Cantinas and Urban In-Line designed for denser areas, it announced August 2. Sixteen Cantina or Urban In-Line restaurants were opened in 2018 across the country. Over the past year, Taco Bell opened six new urban concepts in New York, and plans to debut three more New York City Cantinas by the end of 2018, with locations slated for 500 8th Avenue, 840 8th Avenue, and 224 7th Avenue. Taco Bell said 300 of the 1,000 restaurants it has planned by 2022 will be Urban In-Line or Cantina concepts. Additional Cantina and Urban In-Line units are scheduled for Chicago; Boulder, Colorado; Hollywood, California; and Madison, Wisconsin, in 2018.
“New York has historically been an underserved market for Taco Bell, but we’re changing that, and have agreements on 125 metro New York restaurants in the next five years,” Taco Bell said in a release. And the Cantina and Urban In-Line restaurants, designed without drive-thrus for walkable areas, are the perfect way for the brand to expand to a city like New York. Both feature open kitchens, shareable menus, local artwork, free WiFi, charging stations, and modern designs. Cantina serves alcoholic beverages. And both new designs are smaller in format; a new Cantina in Newport Beach, California is 1,200 square feet, making it the smallest Taco Bell in the U.S.
GrubHub and kiosks will also play a role in Taco Bell’s strategy to dominate such densely populated markets. The brand plans to have 4,500 U.S. restaurants on GrubHub by the end of this year and self-service kiosks in every U.S. restaurant by the end of 2019.
With all these new restaurants (and despite self-serve kiosks), the brand will need to up its hiring game. The chain announced in July it hopes to hire 100,000 new employees by 2022. In a recent trial in Indianapolis, Taco Bell tested a recruiting concept that showcases its unique culture and employee benefits in a “house-party-like setting.” No more details have been released about the technique besides it was successful: the effort resulted in 73 in-person applicants, 40 new hires, and 314 online applicants.
“We’re excited about the future of Taco Bell, where our top focus will always be craveable food and the Taco Bell culture that people want to be part of,” the release stated.
Globally, Taco Bell plans for 9,000 restaurants by 2022. By the end of 2018, Taco Bell said it will have more than 500 international restaurants in nearly 30 markets around the world.