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Taco Bell Opens its First ‘Defy’ Restaurant that Prioritizes Ordering via App

In Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, Taco Bell Defy, a new digital-driven, two-story restaurant concept, opened its doors. In August 2021,  initially informed us about Defy. According to President Mike Grams, the facility employs technology to speed up service, with the “bold objective of providing a 2 minute or less drive-thru experience for customers of this concept.”

Most importantly, the new restaurant’s design is intended to facilitate smartphone ordering and third-party delivery. It transports orders from the higher cooking area to the ground level via a vertical elevator / “food tube” (as shown in the video below) – think of it as a drive-thru bank, but with Chalupas and Baja Blasts instead of cash. The Defy store “boasts several elements that might show up in future Taco Bell locations in the US,” according to Taco Bell and franchise owner Border Foods, and they’re investigating retrofits for other restaurants.

Customers who have a sudden need for a Gordita Crunch or want to speak to a human can order through the standard drive-thru speaker or in-store on a kiosk at Taco Bell Defy, but that isn’t the emphasis here. One of the four drive-thru lanes is a typical drive-thru only. That leaves the other three to prioritise individuals who order through the app in order to check in, “skip the queue,” scan a QR code, pick up their meal, and be on their way, or third-party delivery drivers for services like Door Dash, GrubHub, or Uber Eats.

Taco Bell is the next fast-food business to make digital ordering a priority. Even though the notion of installing Chipotlane drive-thru windows in the first place was “controversial” for business management, Chipotle established its first “digital kitchen” in Ohio in December dedicated to completing online orders and orders coming in through its walk-up window. Ghost kitchens gained traction among larger businesses when restaurants turned to minimal touch food delivery for consumers during the epidemic, as meal delivery apps were frequently used.

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