In addition to preparing more of their menu with all natural ingredients and dropping artificial coloring in its food, Taco Bell will now sell alcoholic beverages. A new Taco Bell location in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago will serve beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
Taco Bell is looking to rebrand itself from the grudgingly beloved, ultra-cheap, late night fast food favorite, to a give customers a more modern, Chipotle-like experience. Taco Bell has already established a collection of upscale locations overseas in the U.K., Seoul, and Tokyo. These restaurants feature an open kitchen, bar seating, and exposed brick walls.
The U.S. test location in Chicago will only sell alcohol to patrons inside, and cups containing alcohol will be different in order to distinguish them from regular soft drinks. Taco Bell employees are being trained on spotting fake IDs and customers that are too intoxicated to be served.
So what’s on the bar menu? 21 and over customers can try a 16-ounce “Freeze”, an ice-based slush that contains a 1 ounce pour of rum, tequila, or vodka blended with Mountain Dew Baja Blast, Mountain Dew Sangrita Blast, or Starburst Strawberry flavors. If these booze-laced slushies aren’t your cup of tea, Taco Bell will also serve wine and beer.
Drinks aren’t currently a huge percentage of Taco Bell’s market, but 21% of consumers say that beverage choice plays a role in deciding where to eat. It is important to note however that 70% of Taco Bell sales come from their drive through and this Chicago location will not have one due to the addition of the bar. Is it worth it? It’s a risk, but traditional fast food resturants of yesteryear are on the decline and Taco Bell needs to try something new to stay in the game. They are betting that, in some cases, a better sit down customer experience (with the option of alcohol) could supercede the convenience of a drive thru.