New Taco Bell Defy Goes Touchless on its Drive Thru

It’s all the buzz as the future of fast food, as Taco Bell is ready to revolutionize the drive-thru. Taco Bell Defy is a new concept from the famous chain, and they’re set to break ground on the first store later this month in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

The future of fast-food drive-thrus just might be shifting with the announcement from Taco Bell. But, the decision to test a more QSR-focused and contactless concept has been accelerated by the pandemic, with 66 percent of consumers anticipating continuing to use curbside pickup after dine-in services resume, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report.

Will this see other fast-food chains follow suit, or is this just a one-off concept that might not last?

The 3,000 square foot, two-story building, will only be for drive-thru service. It will feature four lanes, with one of them being traditional. The other three will be exclusively for pickup orders placed via the Taco Bell app and third-party delivery services. Customers will scan a QR code upon arrival and check-in, then pull forward to pick up their food via a contactless lift system.

“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,” said Mike Grams, Taco Bell’s president and global COO, in a statement. “Partnering with our franchisees to test new concepts is a huge unlock of learning for us. What we learn from the test of this new Defy concept may help shape future Taco Bell restaurants.”

The move comes amid a shift for fast food restaurants, QSRs, and other industries looking to capitalize on the consumer shift that occurred during the pandemic. In January, at the height of the pandemic, 89.6 percent of U.S. restaurants offered takeout, and 81.9 percent had delivery as an option, a third of which used three or more delivery apps. Customers are looking for quick options that feature contactless service and payment, delivery, and pickup options.

While QSRs might have initially been waiting for dine-in service to return, the Delta variant is most certainly forcing some to consider doubling down on pickup, curbside, and delivery options.

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