Taco Bell to offer casual dining at U.S. Taco Co.

Fast-casual dining restaurant hopes to compete with chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread.
By Evan Bleier   |   April 25, 2014 at 8:18 AM  |  Updated April 25, 2014 at 8:19 AM   |   Comments

HUNTINGTON BEACH , Calif., April 25 (UPI) -- On the heels of expanding its menu to offer breakfast, Taco Bell is branching out into other areas.

The popular fast-food chain plans to test a new fast-casual restaurant, U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Tap Room, by opening a trial location in Huntington Beach, Calif.

U.S. Taco will feature more upscale items than what is currently on the menu at Taco Bell in an attempt to capture the business of millenials who eat at chains like Chipotle or Panera Bread.

“A year ago, we conducted an extensive study on our consumer segmentation and identified a separate consumer group that simply was not going to visit quick service restaurants, at all," Jeff Jenkins, Taco Bell senior brand manager, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. "The result is U.S. Taco, a new concept sit-down restaurant that offers the best fusion of American-inspired flavors in tacos, fries and shakes for that emerging demographic of edgy foodies looking for a unique dining experience.”

Betting that the first U.S. Taco location will be a success, the chain already has plans for a second establishment in the Los Angeles area in the works. The second location will serve alcohol, including a spiked milkshake called the "Mexican Car Bomb."

"Everyone in the U.S. has become a foodie," Jenkins told USA Today. "The first thing young people do in a restaurant is take out their camera and take a picture of their food -- and post it on Instagram."

Don’t go to U.S. Taco expecting to get anything with a shell made out of Doritos. "This is an entirely separate brand," Jenkins said. "You will not see Taco Bell."

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