EXCLUSIVE: Taco Bell will ring the changes if new equipment boosts kitchen productivity

Taco Bell, the world’s largest Mexican-inspired restaurant chain, says it is constantly on the look-out for innovations that can boost kitchen productivity in a bid to enhance the successful QSR template it has spent years honing.

Although the chain operates just 24 stores in the UK, versus the 7,000 that it runs in the US and 400 worldwide, the emphasis on speed and accuracy of service is a theme that underpins its entire business.

And according to Ellen Gault, marketing leader for Taco Bell Europe, Taco Bell’s back-of-house set-up is built on a tried and trusted formula that allows it to produce a fully fresh-to-order offer.

“Our kitchens are currently laid out for maximum efficiency, which provides our guests with the best possible experience. However, our engineering and operations teams are always looking for ways to improve the productivity in our kitchens to ensure a seamless back-of-house experience for our team members. These teams are also always looking at how we can take inspiration from other markets to utilise equipment and processes in different ways as well,” she explained.

The base of Taco Bell’s kitchen template in the UK is very similar to that of its US model, however it always allows room for local tweaks.

“One major difference between the US kitchens and international kitchens is the equipment that is specific for French fries, which are served year-round in our global markets. Beyond that, we always customise our equipment as much as we need to in order to best serve our customers with locally relevant food,” she said.

Like many of its QSR competitors, Taco Bell continues to invest in new menu development and recently launched chicken nachos to the UK market for the first time.

Its aim is to utilise existing equipment and smallwares when creating such menu items as it helps maintain efficiencies and costs in the kitchen, but there may be times that it makes the decision to expand a new daypart or sales layer that requires additional kit, said Mrs Gault.

“An example of this would be when we launched Happy Hour in the UK last year. With the introduction of this new daypart came the need for new equipment to support our frozen drinks platform. This process required extensive validation from the brand and our franchisee to ensure the kitchen space, product for the consumer, process for our team members and cost were all justifiable.”

Taco Bell serves around 40 million customers a week across the globe, with the company moving to an open kitchen model in all its UK stores three years ago.

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