Taco Bell’s new Defy™ concept drive-thru opened yesterday and we can’t wait to try it out

Revolutionary reimagined restaurant concept from Taco Bell® – Pre-orders, delivery orders and traditional drive-thru all have their own lanes

Taco Bell is redefining drive-thrus as consumers know it with one of its most innovative Taco Bell restaurant designs yet. Coined “Taco Bell Defy,” the restaurant that broke ground last summer will open its doors – but most importantly, its four-lane drive-thru – in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota on June 7. The first of its kind two-story model delivers innovative technology and design, like a proprietary vertical lift to transport iconic craveable Taco Bell menu items straight from the kitchen to fans.

“Taco Bell Defy is an incredible innovation for our brand, and one that’s meeting our consumers in a really unique way. For decades we’ve been committed to providing a fast, safe and friendly drive-thru experience; now with our bold goal of creating a two minute or less drive-thru experience for customers of this concept, Taco Bell Defy is the future,” said Mike Grams, Taco Bell President and Global COO. “We’re thankful for our incredible 36-year partnership with Border Foods and feel like Taco Bell Defy is a culmination of years of success between our teams, along with the expertise of local partners like Vertical Works who helped make this possible.”

From digital check-in screens for mobile order customers’ unique QR codes, to a two-way audio and video technology service for customers to talk to team members on the second floor, Taco Bell Defy boasts many features that could show up in future Taco Bell restaurants in the US. In the meantime, and in partnership with long-time franchisee Border Foods, the teams are considering potential retrofits that could be made to several of Taco Bell Defy’s neighboring restaurants.

Taco Bell knows what it means to deliver on craveability… and do so quickly. The brand’s drive-thru speed has been lauded for outperforming the average national drive-thru speed. Taco Bell Defy aims to reduce service times to two minutes or less, all while providing fans with a fun, easy and seamless drive-thru experience. To do this, the restaurant model will solve many challenges of traditional drive-thrus in order to drive convenience for fans. Regardless of how fans order their favorites, Taco Bell Defy has four lanes to accommodate them:

  • Pre-orders: Fans who order via the Taco Bell app will score, skip-the-line service. For ultimate ease and convenience, the Taco Bell App can be downloaded ahead of time by visiting the Apple App Store or Google Play.
  • Delivery Drivers: For those ordering through a third-party delivery partner, drivers will be able to process orders with the goal of providing an even faster delivery time in getting tacos straight to fans.
  • Traditional Drive-Thru: For those who can’t resist the purple glowing sign from the street and prefer to drop in for their favorite menu items, there’s one lane dedicated solely for this purpose.

“Taco Bell Defy embodies the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of Minnesota businesses and franchisees,” said Lee Engler, co-founder and CEO of Border Foods. “It is a creative, technological solution for a faster, contactless experience for as many Taco Bell fans as possible and is poised to be the future of quick-service dining.”

Since 1962, Taco Bell has aimed to be a disruptor within its industry, dating back to when Glen Bell opened his first Taco Bell – later, appropriately named “Numero Uno” in Downey, CA. In what was once a “burger world,” Glen aimed to revolutionize what it meant to bring Mexican-inspired food to the masses, with early restaurant concepts that featured walk-up windows, outdoor seating, firepits and live music. In the 70s, drive-thrus were introduced to appeal to shifted consumer behaviors, and since then Taco Bell has introduced innovative restaurant design concepts like Cantina and Go Mobile models. As the brand celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Taco Bell Defy symbolizes a significant drive-thru evolution, with an advancement in digital to meet consumers’ need for speed. From Numero Uno to Defy, Taco Bell’s iconic designs continue to follow Glen’s vision and always aim to deliver craveable flavors for fans.

Minneapolis-based Vertical Works Inc. merged innovation, design and manufacturing to concept and build much of what fans can expect from Defy, and in doing so reinvented the drive thru experience. Vertical Works is powered by WORKSHOP and PD Instore.  

“We applied our innovative approach to problem solving to create a brand-new way for consumers to access fast food,” said Josh Hanson, co-founder of Vertical Works and CEO and founder of WORKSHOP. “We know today’s consumer expects a convenient and memorable experience, and the Taco Bell Defy concept delivers on both.”

“We were excited to partner with Border Foods and Taco Bell to bring the Taco Bell Defy concept to life,” said Mike Strommen, co-founder of Vertical Works and CEO of PD Instore. “The Border Foods team was facing challenges with streamlining the journey from order to meal hand-off, and the Vertical Works team presented a solution to not only address this, but also deliver a more impactful customer experience overall. Taco Bell Defy’s unique design combined with innovative technology delivers food to consumers faster and more efficiently.”

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