Taco Bell Ditching Drive-Thrus in Cities

Over the next five years, Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 restaurants without drive-thrus or parking, like this one in downtown Cleveland. Photo: Tom Horsman
Over the next five years, Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 restaurants without drive-thrus or parking, like this one in downtown Cleveland. Photo: Tom Horsman

It’s 2017 and you have to take positive news where you can find it.

With that in mind, consider this development: Taco Bell is chasing customers who’ll walk to get their fast food fix. The chain is moving away from drive-thrus, reports Devon Walsh at Food & Wine, even though orders from the driver’s seat account for most of its sales. Over the next five years, Taco Bell plans to open more than 300 locations without drive-thrus in major cities.

Steve Patterson at Urban Review STL wonders if other fast food chains will follow suit — and what the effect will be on neighborhood restaurants:

Of course, this could hurt locally-owned Mexican restaurants in areas too urban for a typical Taco Bell. Taco Bell is part of Yum Brands — KFC & Pizza Hut are corporate cousins — maybe these will also develop an urban model? Expect other chains to also look to urban areas for growth — adding new suburban locations is no longer a viable strategy.

Taco Bell recently opened one of these “cantinas” without parking or a drive-thru in downtown Cleveland, right next to the terminus of the Healthline bus rapid transit route. Say what you will about the maker of the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, it’s a big change in the way fast food sellers have typically operated in Cleveland, where their locations are almost exclusively in car-oriented suburbs.

More recommended reading today: Writing at Medium, Darin Givens urges Atlanta leaders to address inequality and dangerous traffic conditions simultaneously. And Stop and Move posts an update on the agonizingly slow construction of a not-very-complex Fresno bus rapid transit project.

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