A big wave of CrunchWrap Supremes and chalupas is rolling into NYC: Taco Bell is planning to open at least 50 more locations in the five boroughs by 2022 — including five that will open by early next year.
Those five will debut in Greenwich Village near NYU (647 Broadway), Times Square area, Prospect Park South (1034 Flatbush Avenue), Bed-Stuy (491 Nostrand Avenue), and in Corona, Queens — a rendering of which is pictured above. They’ll all serve alcohol, except for the one in Queens.
It’s a huge change for the chain. As of now, New York City has a limited number of locations because the company used to focus on opening in the suburbs. A typical Taco Bell receives 55 to 70 percent of its revenue from drive-throughs, which is why the city hasn’t had an explosion of cheesy gordita crunch.
But in the last two years, Taco Bell has been targeting urban areas too — particularly with Taco Bell Cantinas that serve booze — after finding that urban locations get just as much volume from people walking in as suburban ones do from drive-through.
A dozen locations already exist in cities like Chicago and Austin. The chain wants to open 300 to 350 urban locations total in the next five years, and they’re going hard in New York City with 50, according to chief operating officer Mike Grams.
All of them will be in high traffic areas, in spaces that are at least 1,000-square-feet. Expect many of them to pop-up in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, as that’s where there is “more space and opportunity,” Grams says. They’re still trying to figure out Manhattan, but they’ve targeted at least ten for the borough.
The menus will be the same as every other Taco Bell, with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night dining. Locations with alcohol will serve local beers and freezes (aka frozen, slurpy-type things) topped with liquor.
The new NYC Taco Bells will also likely feature some menu items that are specific to the location, as well as commission local artists to help design interiors.
And although the chain wants to sell booze at most of the locations, Grams says that “it’s not an essential.” What’s more important will be late-night hours. “The concept doesn’t really need alcohol to be successful,” Grams says. “It’s simply another layer to appeal to consumers who want it.”
The timing works for the company: Grams says that the company has more national recognition than ever, and the newer city locations have been making money. “We’re going in head first,” he says.