Taco Bell announced today the opening of their first Taco Bell Cantina in Wicker Park, Chicago. The new restaurant had a soft opening today, with a grand opening scheduled for September 22. A second one will open in San Francisco later this month. One aspect about the new concept, known as “urban” restaurants, that stands out is they will serve beer, along with wine, rum, vodka and tequila.
From the press release:
“These new urban restaurants are a critical part of our growth strategy in markets where people experience our brand differently,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”
The Taco Bell Urban Concept incorporates five consumer trends that balance relevancy and brand authenticity:
- Urbanization: The Taco Bell Urban Restaurant Concept reflects the Millennial trend of seeking more urban environments to live, work and play. These restaurants are ideally suited to fit in with pedestrian areas without drive-thrus.
- Digitization: Every point of the customer’s ordering journey is optimized through technology, including digital menu boards, TV monitors and Taco Bell mobile ordering and payment app pick up.
- Localization: Taco Bell incorporated the local architecture of the neighborhoods each restaurant serves.
- The Wicker Park restaurant’s brick walls and prismatic glass were restored to help preserve the 100-year-old building. The location also features a mural designed by local artist, Revise CMW, which serves as a nod to the neighborhood’s history as an artistic hub.
- The San Francisco restaurant, located near AT&T Park, features a patio and mobile pick-up window to cater to the quick pace, tech savvy and vibrant community.
- Green: The new urban locations will be more energy efficient with systems including LED lighting, use of reclaimed elements where possible and recycling.
- Transparency: An open kitchen design and food served in open face baskets gives customers a look inside Taco Bell’s quality ingredients.
Taco Bell Cantina restaurants will be the first and only Taco Bell restaurants to serve alcohol to customers who are of legal drinking age. The San Francisco restaurant will serve beer and wine only, while Wicker Park will serve beer, wine, sangria and twisted Freezes. Cantina restaurants will also feature a new tapas-style menu of shareable appetizers – including nachos and rolled tacos – during designated hours each evening, in addition to the full standard Taco Bell Menu.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
The menu features three 16-ounce frozen drinks that look straight out of the Kwik-E-Mart; spike your cherry-red Cantina Punch, electric-yellow Cantina Margarita or Ninja-Turtle-green Mountain Dew Baja Blast with your choice of Captain Morgan rum ($6.19), Ketel One vodka ($6.69) or Don Julio tequila ($7.19).
You’ll also find Steelhead wine ($4) in individual-size twist-off bottles, and two taps pouring Dos Equis ($4) and Fat Tire ($4.50).
Toast to the fact you’re drinking in a Taco Bell over a new menu of what the brand is calling Shareables — essentially, appetizer baskets. Choose from regular or chili-cheese nachos, quesadilla triangles, mini taquitos (called “rolled tacos”) and, surprisingly, chicken tenders, which are actually the best of the bunch.
The new T-Bell also comes with exposed brick, an open kitchen and a fancy new name: Taco Bell Cantina.
But give up your dreams of a drink after closing time at your local bar. Taco Bell Cantina will serve wine, beer and liquor until only 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and midnight Friday and Saturday. 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Expect to see Alcohol Justice and the prohibitionists going apoplectic over this news.