Taco Bell is doubling down in the Big Apple with its flashy Cantina brand.
The Irvine, Calif.-based fast-food chain announced plans Thursday to open three Cantina restaurants in Manhattan, doubling the number of the edgy standalone concepts it has in New York City.
The Cantina concept is part of Taco Bell’s strategy to change the look of its next generation of stores. The chain plans to open 1,000 new domestic restaurants by 2022. Of those, 300 will be either urban or Cantina concepts — restaurants without drive-thrus built in urban communities with lots of foot traffic.
New York is a key focus with 125 of these urban and Cantina concepts planned in New York City and its surrounding boroughs. (Urban and Cantina concepts share the same features, but urban restaurants don’t serve alcohol.)
This year, Taco Bell has opened a mix of 16 Cantina and urban restaurants with no drive thrus across the country. Besides Manhattan, new urban concepts are planned for Chicago, Boulder, Co., Hollywood, Ca. and Madison, Wi.
The first Cantina restaurant opened in Chicago in 2015. They serve alcohol-infused slushy drinks and a shareable tapas style menu with food served in baskets. Some also serve beer. Stores are designed with open-kitchens, local artwork and plenty of charging stations for mobile devices.
Taco Bell said the modern restaurant design invites customers to “stay and socialize” over their meal, and are often smaller than a traditional drive-thru restaurant.
The next three New York Cantinas are the first Manhattan and will be located at: 500 8th Avenue, 840 8th Avenue and 224 7th Avenue.
Taco Bell, owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands, also announced plans to pull the trigger on the rollout of kiosks in the U.S.
The company has been testing kiosks for more than a year at restaurants near its home base in Orange County, Calif., as well as Indianapolis. In that time, the self-serve stations have gone from a bank of small tablets to big touchscreens displays.
Testing is over as the chain plans to add self-service kiosks “in every restaurant in America by the end of 2019,” the company said Thursday in a statement. The chain also said it is expanding its digital reach through its partnership with Grubhub, a growing platform for online and delivery orders. By the end of the year, Taco Bell plans to have 4,500 restaurants available through Grubhub, which continues to grow its services through acquisitions.
This month, Grubhub bought Boston-based LevelUp, which designs mobile platforms for national and regional restaurant brands.
In 2017, Taco Bell generated $10.1 billion in sales, and had 7,000 units worldwide. The company wants to grow to 9,000 units and $15 billion in annual sales by 2022.
So far this year, Taco Bell has opened 90 domestic restaurants, with 100 more set to open by the end of the year. Globally, the company plans to have more than 500 restaurants open in nearly 30 markets. The company’s goal is to reach 1,000 international locations by 2022.
Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @FastFoodMaven