Taco Bell is taking a page from Chipotle's playbook with its new mobile ordering drive-thrus

Courtesy of Taco BellTaco Bell is launching a new kind of restaurant in 2021: Taco Bell Go Mobile.
  • Taco Bell is launching a new kind of restaurant focused on mobile ordering and pickup: Taco Bell Go Mobile.
  • Go Mobile restaurants will have two drive-thru lanes: one for conventional drive-thru ordering, and one for mobile order pickup.
  • While this is part of a broader, pandemic-related shift by many restaurant chains towards drive-thru business, Taco Bell is the first fast-food chain to announce a Chipotlane-like mobile ordering and pickup system.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Taco Bell will launch a new kind of restaurant in 2021: Taco Bell Go Mobile.

The new Go Mobile restaurants will be specifically designed for mobile ordering and pick-up, the chain announced on Thursday. Locations will be about half the size of a conventional Taco Bell restaurant, spanning just 1,325 square feet compared to 2,500 square feet on average.

The stores will also take a page out of Chipotle’s playbook with a new drive-thru system specifically designed for mobile pick-up.

Taco Bell’s Go Mobile restaurants will have two drive-thru lanes: one conventional lane where customers can order on-site with “bellhops” operating mobile tablets, and one mobile pick-up lane where customers can get food they have ordered ahead via Taco Bell’s mobile app. Contactless curbside pick-up is additionally available to customers.

“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,” Mike Grams, Taco Bell’s president and global chief operating officer, said in the press release. “The Taco Bell Go Mobile restaurant concept is not only an evolved physical footprint, but a completely synchronised digital experience centered around streamlining guest access points.”

Taco Bell Go Mobile Rendering   2Courtesy of Taco BellTaco Bell’s new Go Mobile restaurants will have two drive-thru lanes.
Taco Bell Go Mobile Rendering   3Courtesy of Taco BellThe new restaurant represents a lasting shift towards drive-thrus.

As the pandemic continues to put pressure on dine-in business, many chains are preparing for the future by shedding excess physical space and investing in to-go options, especially drive-thrus.

Starbucks plans to shut down 400 company-owned stores and open 300 new stores that are more oriented towards to-go customers. And Shake Shack plans on installing new “Shack Track” drive-thrus and walk-up windows at around half its locations in 2021, CEO Randy Garutti said on the chain’s Q2 earnings call.

However, when it comes to mobile pickup drive-thru lanes, Chipotle has been the industry pioneer, having first launched its “Chipotlanes” in 2018 before gradually expanding the concept to more restaurants. There are currently about 100 Chipotle restaurants that have drive-thru lanes. Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said on the chain’s Q2 earnings call that Chipotle plans to double down on its Chipotlanes in the coming year.

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