Taco Bell announced Tuesday that the Yum Brands company is opening a new Cantina — complete with digital-only ordering kiosks, digital pickup cubbies, and exclusive menu items — in New York City’s Times Square on April 14. Taco Bell previously hinted at the opening of the “completely digital yet in-person experience” in March when the company outlined its growth plans and focus on new store layout concepts.
This will be the latest location of Taco Bell’s Cantina — the Irvine, Calif.-based company’s funky offshoot with 20+ locations, which usually offers alcoholic beverages and custom menus — and will be the first with a completely digital-only experience. The colorful Times Square Cantina will swap out analog menu boards and ordering counters for 10 digital kiosks where customers can place their orders in-person and pick them up at the front of the restaurant.
The store has also installed a wall of heated digital cubbies where customers can pick up their orders placed ahead of time online or via the Taco Bell app: they can enter the order number and a cubby will light up, indicating the correct spot where they can find their food.
The Taco Bell Cantina will also offer alcoholic beverages, a location-exclusive Freeze made with green apple slushie and red apple/cherry swirl for $3.59 and branded merchandise like sauce packet keychains, pin sets and pens, which customers can order from the kiosks.
Taco Bell also hopes the store will be able to shift employee needs and responsibilities, particularly since no one will be needed at the cash register taking orders or swiping credit cards.
“The beloved elements of the typical Cantina with an open-kitchen and alcoholic drinks paired with the digital design elements of the Times Square Cantina simplify and modernize the consumer experience, which in turn, optimizes and redeploys the role of the team member within the restaurant experience,” Taco Bell said in a statement.
This is all part of a continuation of the company’s New York regional expansion plans, with plans to build 25 more restaurants in the area over the next year. Overall, Taco Bell is accelerating toward its goal to build 10,000 restaurants and become a $20 billion brand over the next decade.
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