- Taco Bell announced Go Mobile restaurants, with two drive-thru lanes focused on mobile orders.
- I visited one of these restaurants in Rochester, New York.
- The efficient design made sense as drive-thrus become even more crucial to fast food.
Taco Bell announced its new Go Mobile restaurants in 2020, which would have smaller footprints than typical locations and focus on mobile orders.
I visited a location in a suburb of Rochester, New York within a week of its grand opening.
Everything about the location was designed to be quick and convenient, bucking recent trends in fast food towards slower service.
Parking spots near the entrance were marked for customers to pick up mobile orders inside.
Customers can go inside and pickup orders off a shelf, similar to the model at Chipotle and other fast casual chains.
Other spots were reserved for delivery drivers, something many fast food and even casual dining chains have implemented.
Remaining parking spots were used to advertise Taco Bell’s app, and try to recruit some new hires.
The most distinctive feature of the new Mobile Go format is the double drive-thru, with one traditional line, and one line dedicated just to mobile orders.
More customers used the traditional drive-thru lane during my visit, but both lines had steady traffic.
To test out the new restaurant, I made sure to make a mobile order to get the full experience.
When ordering in the app, you choose how you want to pick up your food. I went with the drive-thru.
With signs and markings on the pavement, it’s super clear which lane you’re supposed to go to, based on whether you’ve ordered ahead or not.
The design seems very efficient, with mobile orders going directly to a window to pickup their food after giving the order name at the speaker.
Customers using the standard drive-thru lane still have access to a standard menu board, and then continue on to a separate window where they pay and get their order.
Just based on my own frequent Taco Bell trips, lines seemed to move much fast here than at my regular location.
A standard Taco Bell already has two assembly lines, one for drive-thru orders and one for walk-ins. Adding in the mobile focus seemed to keep things moving even more efficiently.
Inside, each table had an advertisement for Taco Bell’s app.
Though the parking lot was busy, no one seemed to be eating inside, showing that the smaller footprint restaurants might be a smart idea.
There was also a display table inside looking for new hires, unsurprising in the labor shortage-plagued fast food world.
There were no bellhops, which were initially announced as part of the plan by Taco Bell last year, though that could be a product of the labor shortage.
Otherwise, though, the restaurant matched up with the mockups Taco Bell released when it announced the Go Mobile locations.
“With demand for our drive-thru at an all-time high, we know adapting to meet our consumers’ rapidly changing needs has never been more important,” Taco Bell’s vice president and global chief operating officer Mike Grams said at the time of the announcement.
It’s been over a year since these Go Mobile restaurants were announced, and drive-thrus have only become more important to Taco Bell and fast food in general.