Foodservice Equipment Reports

Taco Bell Goes Stealthy In Upscale Test Unit

Taco Bell is making a play for the taste buds and wallets of Millennials, who flock to and spend bigger bucks in the $34 billion fast-casual segment.

Dubbed U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, the new concept—highlighted by a vibrantly pink Day of the Dead skull logo—is scheduled to debut this summer in Huntington Beach, Calif. The 1,600-sq.-ft. unit will offer a simple lineup of 10 premium American-style tacos, thick-cut fries and shakes. Future locations also will include craft beer and wine and alcohol-spiked shakes.

The U.S. Taco location is the first of what could be dozens across the country and the world, Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed told the Orange County Register. Executives at the Irvine, Calif.-based chain already are planning a second U.S. Taco Co. location in Southern California.

The store design and cooking methods also differ from Taco Bell. Rather than a build-your-own taco, as at Chipotle, customers will order chef-designed tacos at the counter and peer into the open kitchen as their meals are being cooked or grilled. The dining room features bright yellow, blue and red colors, wood tabletops and floors, subway tile and contemporary lighting.

So far, Taco Bell has invested roughly $500,000 on the startup, according to the Register. U.S. Taco is unrelated to Super Chix, a premium chicken quick-serve concept introduced recently by Taco Bell’s parent Yum! Brands, or a fast-casual variant of the KFC brand called KFC Eleven, which debuted in Louisville last year.

Another Yum! fast-casual concept, Banh Shop, is scheduled to open soon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It, like Super Chix, has been described as a potential growth brand for overseas markets.

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