Taco Bell announced last week that it would soon begin construction on a revolutionary store design called the Taco Bell Defy experience which will supposedly change the fast food game forever. Customers will filter through four lanes that look like people are pulling up to grab a $20 from a bank teller.
Instead, customers will receive Big Beefy Burritos and steak quesadillas in a contactless environment that will end those 2 a.m. interactions with Taco Bell workers. There will be no more arguing with Taco Bell workers over sauce packs. There will be no more arguments over being shorted a Doritos Loco Supreme. The Taco Bell Defy concept store will suck all the fun out of making a run for the border.
Taco Bell announced this new Minnesota location will have lanes dedicated to mobile orders, delivery orders, and customers who buy via the Taco Bell app. Traditional customers will still have use of one lane where the food will be dropped down a chute and you’ll be off to crush a six-pack of soft tacos and crush more Busch Lights before passing out at 4 a.m.
But stop and think about what made Taco Bell so great in the first place. It was the pending arguments with workers. It was the taco fights inside the stores. It was the parking lot fights. It was the whole scene. Part of what made it so great was people hanging out of car windows arguing with the teenage girl taking orders at 2 a.m.
“This new, innovative concept breaking ground in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, will improve a major aspect of the consumer experience: drive-thru speed,” said Aaron Engler, President of Border Foods. “We’re partnering with Taco Bell and the best and brightest in technology and design to create what will very likely be the future of quick service restaurants.”
I get all of the things these Taco Bell partners are saying. I get that this will also eliminate workers and clear the way for robots to pump bean burritos down a tube and into self-driving Teslas while Brogans and Brodies buy NFTs with their Bitcoins. I understand Taco Bell needs to show profits on top of profits. This is a huge loss for those of us who have Bell nostalgia running through our veins. Those blazing hot nights with the boys going on a Bell run thanks to the help of the Uber driver who couldn’t resist taking a couple of drunken 30-somethings for Chalupas. Those are great memories.
Let’s just hope that something fun comes out of this impersonal fast-food restaurant design. Let’s hope that kids and future 30-something-year-old dads ending a casino night bender find some sort of joy in what looks like a joyless experience.