Taco Bell’s new floating restaurant will deliver tacos from the sky

<p>The first-of-its-kind concept, called "Taco Bell Defy," opened June 7 in a Minneapolis suburb and is aimed at "redefining drive-thrus as consumers know it," the chain said.</p>

Taco Bell Corp.

The first-of-its-kind concept, called "Taco Bell Defy," opened June 7 in a Minneapolis suburb and is aimed at "redefining drive-thrus as consumers know it," the chain said.

Taco Bell’s newest location ditches the dining room and has four drive-thru lanes instead.

The first-of-its-kind concept, called “Taco Bell Defy,” opened Tuesday in a Minneapolis suburb and is aimed at “redefining drive-thrus as consumers know it,” the chain said. Customers will notice that the kitchen is on top of the two-story building and orders are delivered via a “vertical lift” to their cars.

“For decades we’ve been committed to providing a fast, safe and friendly drive-thru experience,” said Taco Bell president Mike Grams in a statement. “Now with our bold goal of creating a two minute or less drive-thru experience for customers of this concept, Taco Bell Defy is the future.”

<p>Taco Bell's newest location ditches the dining room and has four drive-thru lanes instead.</p>

Taco Bell Corp.

Taco Bell's newest location ditches the dining room and has four drive-thru lanes instead.

Another advantage, according to Taco Bell, is reducing the amount of time customers spend in the drive thru. A 2021 survey from QSR magazine said that a Taco Bell order takes an average of 268 seconds, or about 4.5 minutes, to complete. With Defy, the chain is looking to shorten the process to 2 minutes or less thanks to the multiple drive-thru lanes.

Each lane will have a distinct purpose, including one for customers who order on the Taco Bell app, another for delivery drivers and the others for traditional orders that is equipped with “two-way audio and video technology service for customers to talk to team members on the second floor,” the company said.

Taco Bell has experimented with a number of pandemic-prompted design changes. In 2020, the chain debuted a “Go Mobile” concept that reduced the size of dining rooms and featured two drive-thru lanes. Inside, customers see more digital kiosks in addition to in-person staff who will take orders.

The designs are in response to the changing ways consumers have been ordering fast food since the pandemic began. Digital orders and drive-thrus exploded in popularity for essentially every chain, including Chipotle, McDonald’s and Starbucks.

For Yum Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, digital sales grew 15% to a record $6 billion in the first quarter for all of its brands, the company revealed in a recent earnings call. Yum Brands also owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Habit Burger.

___