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Taco Bell Redesigns Its Restaurants, Expands Mobile Ordering | August 2021

Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc., is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States. With a focus on international expansion, new restaurant concepts, and menu innovation, Taco Bell has its eyes on the future. A new restaurant design is now spreading across U.S. Taco Bell restaurants as the company prioritizes mobile ordering. 

Taco Bell introduced its “Go Mobile” concept in 2020 which is built around digital transactions. Now, the mobile-first designs are coming to life, with 30 locations being transformed by year’s end. The mobile stores have a smaller footprint than the company’s legacy restaurants and features a dual drive-thru and mobile order pick-up spots. 

Cutting Back on Dining Room Seating 

A significant change in Taco Bell’s design is the reduction of dining room seating. The new design was conceived in response to changing fast food customers’ habits. In recent years, the number of patrons dining in-restaurant at fast-food chains has sharply declined. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend toward drive-thru and digital ordering, and many believe this shift is permanent. 

Investing in Mobile and Drive-Thru Ordering 

A prominent feature in the new design is a double drive-thru featuring a mobile pickup lane and bellhops in the traditional drive-thru lane. The mobile pickup lane allows app users to order ahead and skip the line. Taco Bell also plans to use bellhops, similar to Chick-fil-a, to speed up the ordering process, adding thousands of employees.  

The drive-thru isn’t the only place going digital. Taco Bell is adding curbside pickup and also plans to install more digital kiosks inside its restaurants for contactless ordering. 

A Growing Franchise 

According to Taco Bell, its franchisees are excited by the Go Mobile concept. Franchisees have expressed interest in expanding drive-thru capacity, the company’s chief operating officer said. Yum!, which also operates KFC and Pizza Hut, among others, has reported “record-breaking drive-thru performance” across its U.S. restaurants. 

The company is not only meeting customer demand for mobile-friendly ordering and pickup but also incentivizing customers to place mobile orders. The company is expanding its rewards program, allowing users to earn points on all orders, including those placed through drive-thrus and digital kiosks. Rewards members also get early access to limited-time menu items. 

Taco Bell and 350 franchise organizations operate more than 7,000 restaurants in the United States alone, serving more than 40 million customers per week. Internationally, the company operates 500 restaurants in nearly 30 countries. Taco Bell aims to have 10,000 restaurants by the end of the decade. 

In the Classroom 

This article can be used to discuss franchises (Chapter 5: Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Franchising). This article could also be used to discuss mobile marketing (Chapter 13: Digital Marketing and Social Media). 

Discussion Questions 

  1. Why do you think Taco Bell is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States? 
  2. Do you personally order food using mobile technology? 
  3. Why do you think Taco Bell is rolling out its redesign so slowly? 

This article was developed with the support of Kelsey Reddick for and under the direction of O.C. Ferrell and Linda Ferrell. 


Amelia Lucas, "Taco Bell Unveils New Design With More Drive-Thrus as Pandemic Permanently Shifts How We Order," CNBC, August 20, 2020,  

Jordan Valinsky, "Taco Bell Is Getting a New Look," CNN, March 23, 2021, 

"Taco Bell Grows Digital Capabilities By Expanding Rewards Program,", July 29, 2021,  

Yum! Brands, "Taco Bell,"

About the Author

O.C. Ferrell is the James T. Pursell Sr. Eminent Scholar in Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethical Organizational Cultures in the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, Auburn University. He was formerly Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Business Ethics at Belmont University and University Distinguished Professor at the University of New Mexico. He has also been on the faculties of the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, University of Memphis, Texas A&M University, Illinois State University, and Southern Illinois University. He received his Ph.D. in marketing from Louisiana State University.

Profile Photo of OC Ferrell