Taco Bell has closed its fast-casual concept U.S. Taco Co. in order to put greater focus on its urban “Cantina” units opening in Chicago and San Francisco.
The Day of the Dead-themed restaurant—which operated in Huntington Beach, Calif., for just more than a year—was the QSR’s foray into a more elevated dining experience, with a menu that featured such items as lobster, milkshakes and ghost chile ketchup.
“We faced several local business challenges with this particular location, but it did allow us to experiment and create new experiences with a menu concept focused on regional favorites and a design inspired by how fans live,” Taco Bell said in a statement. “While future U.S. Taco Co. restaurants may open, in the immediate term we are focused other restaurant development opportunities.”
Those opportunities include Taco Bell’s much-anticipated “Cantina” concepts, the first of which opens in Chicago Tuesday. The Cantina units ditch the drive-thru, opting to draw pedestrian guests with open kitchens, shared appetizers and a number of alcoholic-beverage options, including beer, wine and slushie-esque “Twisted Freezes.”
“These new urban restaurants are a critical part of our growth strategy in markets where people experience our brand differently,” said Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol. “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”