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Taco Bell expands delivery nationwide

The service expansion through Grubhub follows the chain’s seventh straight year of same-store sales growth.
Photograph courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell on Thursday said it would expand delivery nationwide through Grubhub, one year after parent company Yum Brands’ investment in the food ordering company.

The announcement was made the same day Taco Bell reported that its fourth quarter same-store sales rose 6%—finishing off the Mexican QSR’s seventh straight year of same-store sales increases.

“They’re just doing everything right,” Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed said on the company’s earnings call Thursday after noting that there was “no silver bullet” behind the chain’s success—though he cited Julie Felss Masino, president of Taco Bell, North America, for driving improvement for the company.

“They’re the value leader, the innovation leader. They have great operations. The assets are in great shape and franchisees like the restaurant-level margins. The brand’s in great shape.”

Delivery has become an increasingly widespread service throughout the restaurant industry as third-party providers have grown and consumers are clearly demanding the service.

Many companies argue that the service is generating incremental sales, and marketing efforts behind delivery are bolstering traffic. Chipotle Mexican Grill, for instance, used heavy delivery promotions late in December to boost its own digital sales, which helped the company increase transactions in the fourth quarter by 2%.

Taco Bell has nearly 7,000 locations in the U.S., and delivery has expanded to about two-thirds of them, but that number “is continuing to grow” as Grubhub expands its reach, according to a company spokesman.

Taco Bell is planning a marketing push behind delivery to introduce its customers to the service—delivery fees will be waived for orders above $12 for a limited time. The company is introducing an ad campaign featuring actor Adam DeVine that Creed said was “as good as any work at Taco Bell.”

But the chain has also taken steps to assure that the service will work seamlessly with its restaurants to improve speed.

Taco Bell has integrated its point-of-sale system directly into the Grubhub app so pickup is timed to the moment an order is ready.

“Our approach to delivery is a recipe for success all around, not only benefiting our customers but also our team members, franchisees and Grubhub drivers, by streamlining how orders hit our kitchens and when they are picked up,” Masino said in a statement.

Yum made an investment in Grubhub a year ago. The Louisville, Ky.-based quick-service chain operator agreed to buy $200 million worth of Grubhub stock, with Pizza Hut’s U.S. president, Artie Starrs, taking a spot on Grubhub's board.

Since then, KFC and Taco Bell have been working to integrate Grubhub delivery in their restaurants across the country.

Customers can go to TacoBell.com and plug in their ZIP code before being directed to Grubhub. Or they can go directly to Grubhub.com or the service’s app to place their order.

“We’ve been working towards the moment of nationwide Taco Bell delivery since we first announced our partnership with Yum Brands last year, and we’re excited that it is now a reality,” Seth Priebatsch, head of enterprise restaurants for Grubhub, said in a statement.

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