Taco Bell Entering Fast-Casual Dining Space with U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom

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 don’t have the time or money for a traditional sit-down restaurant. It’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.

Taco. Co. Logo

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.

U.S. Taco Co TacosWhile consumers may think that U.S. Taco Co. and Taco Bell are similar, executives are adamant that the two are entirely different. “Taco Bell is Mexican-inspired, and U.S. Taco is American-inspired,” 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 décor.

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!

Lea
By Lea
Food-loving wanderlust connecting the dots between craft beer, live music, and the Charlotte (and neighboring cities’) restaurant scene. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more tasty bites.

5 Comments

  1. I would never set foot in a Taco Bell but I would definitely give this place a try. I love the look of the interior of the restaurant. The food quality will be the deciding factor if they sink or swim.

  2. I agree the restaurant looks cool but I could not get over it is affiliated with Taco Bell. Still a fast food chain. I would rather support some local Taco joint than a giant fast food chain. I am sure they will do well since that is what America seems to like now.

  3. Lea

    I agree with both of you. I’ll try everything once, but I’d still much rather go to the mom and pop or local chain. So far no mention on where ingredients will be sourced. Only references are “quality” and “fresh” ingredients.

  4. I think Maverick Rock Taco has the best Mexican food in town. I thought when they opened they were pretty average but they have seemed to step up their game over the past couple of years. I hope Bakersfield on East is solid when they open.

  5. I love this these two contradicting statements; “The.. start-up is targeting more health conscious consumers” & “The Huntington location will debut a lineup of 10 tacos including the Southern-inspired Winner Winner, which comes stuffed with fried chicken and gravy”.

    Yep, sounds real health conscious to me. Either way, I’m sure I’ll give it a whirl.

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