Taco Bell modern restaurant
Taco Bell plans to expand to operate approximately 9,000 restaurants globally in the next five years.

IRVINE, CALIF. — Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands, Inc., recently announced its strategy of adding restaurants globally to increase its annual sales from $10 billion to $15 billion by 2022. The company disclosed its plan at its 2017 investor and analyst day and revealed that it would add restaurants domestically, as well as focusing on four key international markets.

Taco Bell plans to grow its system to approximately 9,000 restaurants globally in the next five years. According to a company statement, this will create the opportunity for 100,000 new jobs in the United States. The company opened more than 600 new restaurants domestically between 2012 and 2016 (excluding license units). It also will target Brazil, Canada, China and India internationally aiming for at least 100 restaurants in each of those markets to add to its current 6,650-plus restaurants in 23 countries.

Melissa Lora, Taco Bell
Melissa Lora, president of Taco Bell International

“We’re seeing tons of enthusiasm from our fans and franchisees to expand Taco Bell globally,” said Melissa Lora, president of Taco Bell International. “We’re focusing our efforts on four key markets that have billions of people and a strong youth culture. We believe Taco Bell can become a global powerhouse.”

As it does with its menu, Taco Bell said it wants to create relevant experiences in its restaurants with open kitchens, digital menu boards, shareable food and the opportunity to create a community atmosphere utilizing local reclaimed elements and artwork. Sound management of building costs and design have allowed for expansion into both rural and suburban markets, the company said. Taco Bell also will enter highly pedestrian urban areas that do not have room for a drive thru and use its inline and Cantina restaurant concepts for these locations.

Brian Niccol, Taco Bell
Brian Niccol, c.e.o. of Taco Bell

“We have tremendous potential to continue to grow this brand domestically, as well as globally, with our world-class franchise system,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer of Taco Bell. “We are already off to a great start by continuing with breakthrough menu innovation, digital innovation and diversifying our development portfolio. Our new and remodeled restaurants deliver a Taco Bell ‘category-of-one’ brand experience for suburban, urban and rural markets.”

For suburban markets, Taco Bell developed four new restaurant designs to reflect local communities. The Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol and Urban Edge concepts all tested in Orange County, Calif., in 2016, and two new restaurants in Bay City, Mich., and New Whiteland, Ind., opened earlier this year. By the end of 2017, an additional 350 restaurants will have been refreshed, bringing the total number to about 80% of the system, the company said. Taco Bell and its franchisees have spent more than $600 million to re-image 2,700 restaurants in the past five years.

Taco Bell concepts
Taco Bell's The Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol and Urban Edge concepts all tested in Orange County, Calif., in 2016.

“Innovation on our menu and building design, along with social experiences, is going to fuel our growth,” said Liz Williams, chief financial officer of Taco Bell. “Domestically we’re looking at opportunities to increase our penetration in underserved markets while internationally we’re evaluating new markets to serve customers we aren’t currently.”

The inline and cantina models serve the urban markets and first opened in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. Since then, 11 urban inline stores have opened in cities, including San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Atlanta. Along with Wicker Park, five are Cantina locations, meaning they serve alcohol: Austin, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Berkeley, Calif.

Taco Bell Cantina
Taco Bell has been expanding its Cantina locations.

“Urban markets require a different approach for Taco Bell to stay relevant for consumers and create a successful business model for our franchisees,” said Mike Grams, chief operating officer of Taco Bell. “Taco Bell has a lot of opportunity in areas such as New York City and Chicago, and we have a great solution for our franchisees and developers with our urban inline and Cantina concepts.”

By 2022, Taco Bell said it expects at least 300 of the new locations to be urban inline restaurants in markets with “great growth potential.”