Taco Bell is one of the most popular late-night fast food restaurant. Making several thousands of dollars a day, Taco Bell has opened about 300 locations called ‘Cantina Taco Bell.’ Most of these are located throughout California.
Cantina Taco Bells have a different menu than the original Taco Bell. Chicken fingers, appetizers and a larger variety of soft drinks are on the Cantina menu. They don’t have drive-throughs and have more of a lounge setting inside the restaurant. These restaurants include charging ports, couches and free wifi.
Taco Bell has a new item every six weeks. These items are called ‘LTOs.’ After it’s been six weeks, Taco Bell will remove this item from the menu and add another item. This includes food and drinks.
“I really love how Taco Bell is always adding new items to their menu almost monthly,” Local Taco Bell employee Katie O’Brien said.
At the Cantina Taco Bell, they keep all of Taco Bell’s LTOs permanently. Customers get angry when Taco Bell removes an item from the menu, for example, The Beefy Crunch Movement.
Recently, Cantina Taco Bell’s have added alcohol to their menu.
“I think it’s a huge step in the right direction to branch out and serve alcohol. I believe this will increase sales and bring more people in,” O’Brien said. “As a late-night employee, I’ve seen some not-so-sober customers in our drive-through, especially with our summer hours. Our drive-thru closes at 4 a.m. on weekends throughout the summer. I also think it’s a smart idea to not serve alcohol through the drive-through.”
Alcohol served in the cantina-style Taco Bell include seasonal draft beer, bottled beer, sangrias and mixed drinks.
“You can’t go on in there and get a shot, we’re not doing bars,” said Taco Bell COO Mike Grams.
The most popular drink is their Twisted Freeze. There are three freeze options: Baja Blast, Cantina Punch, and Margarita. Freezes can be spiked with rum, tequila or vodka.
“What’s cool about Cantina, is depending on what you add into it, it makes the drink taste very different,” said Katie Gardiner, Taco Bell’s Brand Manager.
These Taco Bells require the drinking age to work there. They will also pour Twisted Freezes into a cup with black letters so alcoholic drinks can be easily differentiated from the non-alcoholic cups with white letters.
A device from Berg Liquor Control measures the alcohol that is poured into a drink. Not only does this help keep track of the alcohol being sold the most, but it also prevents double shots, limiting one shot per drink.
The very first Cantina Taco Bell to serve alcohol was late 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have open bar hours. Alcohol sales end at 10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Food sales go on two hours longer than alcohol sales.
Taco Bell plans to have more than 500 Cantina locations all across The United States by the end of 2018.
In the past two years, Taco Bell has noticed an increase amount of sales from walk-in customers than they have drive-through.
“I visit Taco Bell a few times a month,” Taco Bell customer, Lukas Jones said. “If there is ever a time where I come across a Cantina location, I will definitely pay them a visit. I’ve never heard of anything like this before. I see several great marketing strategies used to reel their customers in. I can’t wait to see where this takes Taco Bell.”
With hopes to open Cantina locations internationally, Taco Bell will continue to reach out to people who are unfamiliar with their food by adding a twist to their menu. This proves, they aren’t afraid to try new things.