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Taco Bell Cantina
Taco Bell franchisee Diversified Restaurant Group's newest Cantina in San Jose, Calif.

Taco Bell adds another Cantina to its portfolio

Diversified Restaurant Group first introduced the Cantina concept to Taco Bell in 2015 and there are now seven on the group’s roster, and about 50 overall.

Taco Bell recently announced its Go Mobile 2.0 concept, a much smaller restaurant meant to meet the needs of a growing digital business. That doesn’t mean it’s abandoning its other concepts, however. Indeed, Diversified Restaurant Group, one of the chain’s largest franchisees with 325 locations, is opening its newest Taco Bell Cantina at Westfield Oakridge Mall in San Jose, Calif., this week.

The newest Cantina features a retro look with a vintage movie theater display case, three ordering kiosks, a pick-up window, and patio seating that can accommodate up to 24 guests. The location also serves alcoholic beverages including liquor, beer and wine.  

“The new San Jose Taco Bell Cantina is a great addition to the community and offers more ease and convenience for customers to dine in, order delivery, or pick up to-go orders,” DRG CEO SG Ellison said in a statement. “Plus, the cool factor for this location is that customers can quickly get their Taco Bell and Twisted Freeze fix before or after shopping or seeing a new movie release at the amazing Century Theatre in the Westfield Oakridge Mall.”

The Cantina concept was first introduced in 2015 by DRG. There are now about 50 such locations in more than a dozen states and Taco Bell plans to add “multiple” new Cantina locations, including in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, by the end of this year. It is part of Taco Bell’s increasingly diversified real estate mix to attract franchisees and target its 10,000-unit goal domestically “in the coming years.”

Diversified Restaurant Group should play a big part in that plan. The company started as a limited partnership in a 29-unit Taco Bell franchise in 2012 and has since grown into a 350-plus unit, multi-brand QSR operation in five states. The company expects to double its revenue and store count within the next five years, including through Taco Bell acquisitions and new-builds like this latest Cantina. DRG also operates the Pacifica, Calif., Cantina, which has been called “the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world,” as well as Cantinas in Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Danville, San Ramone, and San Francisco, Calif. According to a spokesperson, the company is looking to open more Cantinas in its future.

“Our relationship with the company has been good for both of us and has allowed us to continue to grow in this amazing franchise,” Ellison said in a recent interview. “I feel very excited and privileged to continue to grow within the Taco Bell business.”

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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