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13 restaurant prototypes unveiled in 2021, from Taco Bell to Denny’s

Restaurant chains unveiled plans for new prototypes in 2021, almost entirely catering to consumers’ evolving needs during the pandemic.

Quick-service and fast-casual chains nationwide made plans to add drive-thrus and specific pickup areas for digital orders, with many shrinking or even eliminating dining rooms. Taco Bell took the multi-drive-thru trend to the next level when it introduced the Taco Bell Defy, with four lanes — three of those dedicated to mobile and delivery order pickups.

Not every redesign came from limited-service chains, however. At least two family-dining restaurants joined in the trend. Denny’s finally offered a peek at its Heritage 2.0 prototype, initially planned pre-pandemic. And First Watch revamped its designs to cater to an increase in digital demand while also encouraging consumers to sit and stay a while.

Other design innovations included a pay-first Piada Italian Street Food unit and a walk-up ordering area for Freddy’s Frozen Custard.

Click through the gallery to read about these restaurant redesigns and more.

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