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Taco Bell to serve alcohol at new urban prototype

Taco Bell to serve alcohol at new urban prototype

Chicago restaurant to put alcohol on the menu, but not for take out

Taco Bell revealed Wednesday renderings of a test of its new urban restaurant design scheduled to open this summer in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

Earlier this year, news leaked that the unit will be Taco Bell’s first to offer alcohol. According to Thrillist, the liquor license application included descriptions of “Twisted Freezes” with rum, tequila and vodka.

The company confirmed that beer, wine and mixed-spirit freezes will be on the menu. Alcohol consumption will be limited to inside the restaurant, and a cup design will be used to distinguish beverages that contain alcohol.

The franchised location will require all team members to be trained to National Restaurant Association alcohol service guidelines, and a third-party secret shopper vendor will monitor alcohol sales, officials said.

Other elements will make this restaurant stand out.

Wicker Park Taco Bell interior rendering. Photo: Taco Bell

The design, which has also launched in Tokyo, Seoul and the United Kingdom, is an attempt to break out of the “one size fits all” development model, and more specifically reflect the architecture of the neighborhood, Taco Bell said in press materials.

Sustainability is a goal, with reclaimed elements of the existing building, like the restored prismatic glass and brick walls. Lighting, heating and cooling features will be energy efficient where possible.

The restaurant will have an open kitchen to send a message of transparency, and food served on premise will be in baskets to showcase ingredients and offer an upscale presentation.

Local artists will add to décor elements to lend a neighborhood feel.

The new urban units lack one key Taco Bell feature: a drive thru.

But the in-line design — which is about half the size of a traditional Taco Bell unit — offers more location flexibility in a smaller footprint.

The more than 6,000-unit Taco Bell chain is pushing to open another 2,000 locations by 2022. Earlier this year, Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol said the chain is testing units built in portable shipping containers, which would allow the brand to move into other unexpected locations.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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