Jun 9, 2022 - Food and Drink

Lots of Taco-bout our new Bell

Cars line up outside Taco Bell in Brooklyn Park
Cars lined up outside Taco Bell in Brooklyn Park. Photo: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

Time will tell if Taco Bell's new Brooklyn Park prototype restaurant is indeed the "future of fast food," but even if it's not, the brand scored a big win this week.

What happened: Local franchisee Border Foods, in creating the new "Defy" concept, generated buzz for a decades-old fast food chain.

  • Social media mentions about Taco Bell spiked three times their normal volume this week, according to Brandwatch, which analyzes social media data for brands.
  • Even the account for beverage brand Sunny D weighed in with a mean tweet asking what an incredible thing like this is doing in Minnesota.
  • The four-lane drive thru with a second -level kitchen got local and national media coverage.

What we found: Audrey tried Taco Bell Defy on opening night and counted more than 100 vehicles backed up for a restaurant that wasn't quite ready for all this business.

The intrigue: Nick asked Lee Engler, the man behind this new Taco Bell concept, when the last time there was a press conference for the opening of a Taco Bell. Engler's company, Border Foods, has 230 Taco Bells, so he's seen a lot.

  • Engler chuckled and noted that the unveiling of the Cantina brand several years ago had press events. But it's not a common occurrence for such fanfare for a Taco Bell opening.

Yes, but: Not all the buzz has been good. Brandwatch noted that 88% of mentions were negative, with users saying it looks like a bank and lacks human interaction.

  • Of note: A good deal of the negative comments were meant to be humorous, Brandwatch notes.

The bottom line: Any press is good press, right?

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