Taco Bell Goes Millennial with More Urban "Cantinas"

The fast food chain plans to add over 300 locations by 2022.

By Ethan L. Johns
September 18, 2017

Image: Scott Olson / Getty Images

September 18, 2017
— Joining the ranks of basically every other company on the planet in the mission to appeal to the millennial demographic (beware: we can see right through you), Taco Bell is frying up some spicy, urban-centric plans. How spicy? Over-300-new-stores spicy.

These new locations, which will be inserted into existing real estate rather than created as standalone restaurants, will be in the form of Taco Bell “Cantinas,” the first of which was opened in Chicago back in 2015. The Cantina concept has evidently been successful enough to warrant the planning of a massive amount of new stores—between 300 and 350 before 2022, at least 50 of which will be built in New York City. With no drive-thru, the stores are targeted more towards an urban clientele, which basically means young folks with a bit more spending power. Remarked Taco Bell COO Mike Grams to Eater, America is experiencing a “revitalization of urban areas, and we’re seeing millennials moving into downtown areas.”

What better way to attract the millennials than by using the millennial checklist to create the menu and aesthetic? Exposed brick? Check. Local beer and artwork? Check. “Shareable” plates, like nachos? Check. Fast-casual, open kitchen? Duh. The “Cantina” has all of this and more, including alcoholic “Freezes” and televisions to make people feel like they can hang out in the store for longer periods of time.

The Chipotlization of Taco Bell? Quit dreaming: you can still get a Mexican Pizza at the Cantina.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns