Taco Bell hopes its new restaurant designs will entice you to stay and eat

As Taco Bell expands into new neighborhoods, the drive-through mainstay wants people to come inside and sit down more. So it’s trying some new looks, starting with four of its restaurants in Orange County.

But don’t expect table service or a wildly revamped menu.

The remodeled restaurants -- in Brea, Newport Beach, Santa Ana and Tustin -- are to debut in the summer, each featuring one of four designs that the fast-food chain is testing for further rollout next year.

See the most-read stories this hour >>

These styles are a Mission Revival-esque architecture with white walls, tile and “heavy timbers,” a “rustic” modern look, an “urban edge” interior and a design dubbed California Sol that includes an expanded outdoor dining room. The Orange County locations were chosen for the test because they were already scheduled for a remodel, said Deborah Brand, Taco Bell’s vice president of development and design.

“As we continue to expand into different markets ... we realized pretty quickly that having a one-size-fits-all design really isn’t very effective,” Brand said. “We want to be where the customer is, and we want to reflect the community we’re going into.”


The Irvine-based subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc. said in 2014 that it plans to open 2,000 new restaurants by 2022. In its quarterly report last month, Taco Bell said it had 6,437 locations, most of which were in the U.S.

The remodels align with the company’s “social strategy,” Brand said. The chain hopes the designs will entice customers to stay for dinner, come in for breakfast or show up on weekends.

Taco Bell also said that in newly built restaurants, it hopes to incorporate more sustainable landscape elements, such as solar panel canopies over drive-throughs.


McDonald’s experiments with a new ingredient: fresh beef

Every item on the new Taco Bell $1 breakfast menu, reviewed in emojis

Adios, Taco Bell: Original store moves from Downey to Irvine in late-night run

For more business news, follow me @smasunaga