New 'cantina-style' Taco Bells to serve alcohol, ditch drive-thrus by 2022

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Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 "cantina style" stores across the country that ditches the drive-thru and adds alcohol. [Times Files]
Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 "cantina style" stores across the country that ditches the drive-thru and adds alcohol. [Times Files]
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Taco Bell is ditching drive-thrus and adding alcohol.

Well, at least in 300 to 350 new stores that the Tex-Mex chain plans to open across the country by 2022.

According to Food & Wine, Taco Bell will open hundreds of locations in the United States with a revamped "cantina style" layout that does not accommodate drive-thrus and tacks on beer and liquor to the menu.

Yes, alcohol will be served at Taco Bell.

On the menu will be sangria, beer and Twisted Freezes — slushies with rum, vodka or tequila.

The chain aims to make its presence known in urban areas, where most of the new stores are slated to open. Taco Bell currently operates more than 7,000 restaurants worldwide and 5,604 in the U.S.

The new-and-improved "urban in-line" stores will be designed to feature local artwork, digital menu boards and open kitchens. Customers will be able to watch their food being cooked.

"One of the cool things happening in America right now is the revitalization of urban areas, and we're seeing millennials moving into downtown areas," Mike Grams, Taco Bell's chief operating officer, told Food & Wine.

The cantinas' smaller scale and hipper atmosphere highlight that the chain "isn't afraid to try new things," Grams said.

And that certainly rings true as this isn't the first time Taco Bell has attempted to revolutionize its brand.

Earlier this year, the chain partnered with taxi-like service Lyft, adding a feature to the company's app called "Taco Mode" that takes riders to nearby Taco Bell restaurants on the way to their destinations.

Another interesting point: According to Food & Wine, the chain's drive-thrus make up around 55 to 70 percent of its revenue.

Getting rid of them in hundreds of new stores?

Bold move, Taco Bell.

Contact Samantha Putterman at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @samputterman.

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