Taco Bell fans missing the chain’s popular Breakfast Crunchwrap can rest easy.
The Irvine, Calif.-based chain told Nation’s Restaurant News that breakfast is back at more than 50% of restaurants. At the onset of the pandemic, Taco Bell reduced breakfast hours after the country experienced an unprecedented lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
During the pandemic, chains such as Taco Bell and McDonald’s reduced their menus or hours.
In late March, some Taco Bell restaurants temporarily stopped serving breakfast.
Parent company Yum Brands said sales declines at Taco Bell at the onset of the crisis were driven by a drop in late-night and breakfast sales.
“The breakfast business is impacted when people aren't on the roads going to work," CEO David Gibbs said in late April. "They're not going through your drive-thru for breakfast as much."
With parts of the country starting to reopen, the chain told NRN that the breakfast menu is “slowly rolling back systemwide with more than half of our U.S. restaurants operating during the AM daypart.”
The brand has about 6,800 domestic restaurants.
Despite the pandemic-fueled sales declines, the brand has been able to improve wait times at the drive-thru this year.
Taco Bell’s speed of service at the drive thru was 9 seconds faster this year, according to 20th annual QSR Drive-Thru Study.
The report, released Oct. 1, said Taco Bell had a total time of 310.2 seconds in 2020 compared to 319.3 seconds in 2019. While it was less than a 10-second improvement, that was enough to catapult the brand to a No. 2 ranking this year. Last year, it ranked No. 8.
“The customer experience has always been a top priority for Taco Bell – a key piece of that being our speed of service," Jen Somers, vice president of global operations services for Taco Bell, told NRN in a statement. “Our menu evolution efforts have not only allowed us to make more room for future innovations, but combined with increased digital efforts, have simplified our guests’ overall journey in our drive-thrus.”
The brand has trimmed the menu a few times over the last 12 months, which has helped to streamline operations. Two major trims came in September 2019 and August 2020, where more than 20 items were eliminated from the menu. The brand plans to eliminate more items in November.
Somers said restaurants in the third quarter, on average, were more than 15 seconds faster year over year.
“Our goal is always to provide our customers with the best service, and this is just one way we are able to accomplish that,” Somers said.
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