Taco Bell Entering Fast-Casual Dining Space with U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom
Look out Chipotle! Taco Bell is making a play in the growing fast-casual dining space with U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom. The new concept is slated to debut in Huntington Beach, California, followed by L.A., over the next few months. The food truck and taco taqueria-inspired start-up is targeting more health conscious consumers who would never step foot in a Taco Bell but still enjoy the Mexican-inspired cuisine.
The idea was born from routine consumer-segmentation research, which found a potential growth segment comprised of consumers who are willing to spend a few extra dollars for better ingredients but donâ€™t have the time or money for a traditional sit-down restaurant.Â Itâ€™s no surprise Taco Bell, under parent-company Yum! Brands, is looking to expand. The fast-casual dining industry generated $34.5 billion in sales last year and revenue is expected to exceed $50 billion by 2017, according to market research firm Technomic.
The new concept features an edgy logo, reminiscent of Day of Dead sugar skulls, but the menu itself will feature spins on regional American-inspired tacos. “There’s a lot of great fusion going on, a lot of it coming from the food-truck scene,” said Mr. Jenkins, senior brand manager at Taco Bell.
The Huntington location will debut a lineup of 10 tacos including the Southern-inspired Winner Winner, which comes stuffed with fried chicken and gravy and the Tex-Mex-inspired Smokey & Bandito, featuring beef brisket and salsa. The menu will also offer tequila and Guinness-spiked milkshakes and habanero-dusted fries. “We’re starting with 10 tacos but we have an opportunity for more — we have 20 more in queue we could pull in anytime,” says Rene Piscotti, executive chef at U.S. Taco Co., and Taco Bell executive.
While consumers may think that U.S. Taco Co. and Taco Bell are similar, executives are adamant that the two are entirely different. â€śTaco Bell is Mexican-inspired, and U.S. Taco is American-inspired,â€ť says Taco Bell Chief Executive, Greg Creed. The store design and cooking methods are expected to be distinctly different with brightly colored dining rooms and open kitchens, wood tabletops and floors, and contemporary lighting and dĂ©cor.
Though executives are hopeful to eventually open locations nationwide, plans have only been made to open the two so far. Meanwhile, Taco Bell continues to dominate the Mexican-inspired fast food industry and is expected to double sales from $7billion last year to $14 billion by 2022.
What are your thoughts on Taco Bell’s new venture? Will it succeed or will U.S. Taco Co. be unable to shake the association with fast-food giant Taco Bell? Let us know your opinions and thoughts in the comments below!