Taco Bell’s new Defy concept has four drive-through lanes, with three dedicated to mobile and delivery orders
Taco Bell will break ground this month on its highly anticipated Defy concept: an ultra-high-tech, two-story, 3,000-square-foot site boasting four drive-through lines, with three set up exclusively for mobile and delivery orders. Taco Bell and franchisee Border Foods collaborated with Vertical Works Inc. to design Defy, and the first one is expected to open next summer in Brooklyn Park, Minn. This will mark the 230th restaurant and 82nd new-restaurant build for Taco Bell and Border Foods.
Defy will offer skip-the-line service for customers who order via the Taco Bell app and for third-party delivery services. The four-lane setup will help Taco Bell’s Defy footprint, which is smaller or equal to existing store footprints, serve even more customers.
Border Foods last year tapped Vertical Works to assist with the design with a central goal of expediting orders. Vertical Works is a design firm that merges manufacturing and construction considerations in devising concepts for quick-serve restaurants, retail companies, health-care facilities, and more. Defy will have digital check-in screens so that customers placing mobile orders may scan orders using a QR code and pick up their purchases via a contactless Bell-evator lift system. When they’re ordering, customers can communicate with Taco Bell employees who are up on the second story.
In a statement, Mike Grams, Taco Bell’s president and global chief operating officer, praised the company for its history of innovation. “In 2015, we created the Taco Bell Cantina concept with an open kitchen environment in urban markets. In 2020, we introduced the Go Mobile concept much earlier than anticipated with the help of quick collaboration with franchisees just like Border Foods.” Grams went on to say that partnering with franchisees to test new concepts is a huge benefit for the brand. “What we learn from the test of this new Defy concept may help shape future Taco Bell restaurants.”
We’re partnering with Taco Bell and the best and brightest in technology and design to create what will very likely be the future of quick-service restaurants.Aaron Engler, Border Foods president
Border Foods President Aaron Engler said Defy “will improve a major aspect of the consumer experience: drive-through speed. We’re partnering with Taco Bell and the best and brightest in technology and design to create what will very likely be the future of quick-service restaurants.”
A year ago Taco Bell debuted its Go Mobile restaurants that lifted digital and drive-through experiences to a new level. That new concept took off on the strength of enhancements such as dual drive-through lanes (including one exclusively for mobile orders), mobile pickup shelves, kiosk ordering and a faster bellhop experience. Taco Bell currently has 13 Go Mobile restaurants with 85 more on the way. Defy is the newest innovation within the Go Mobile category.
Defy is expected to achieve Taco Bell’s fastest-ever service, which has been constantly tweaked during the months of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the second quarter of 2021, the company racked up a sixth consecutive quarter of drive-through times of fewer than four minutes. Digital sales made up 12% of Taco Bell’s total business in 2020. The brand debuted its rewards program in July 2020, and since then its app sales have increased by 90 percent.
Taco Bell closed out the second quarter with 7,567 restaurants (6,895 of them in the United States). It has added 74 restaurants so far in 2021.