Taco Bell experimenting with chic makeover

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Taco Bell's "Heritage" design. Photo courtesy Taco Bell.

Taco Bell may not look like a fast-food joint for much longer.

The popular taco chain is giving four Orange County, Calif. locations a stylish, edgy look unprecedented for a fast-foot restaurant that does most of its business in the middle of the night.

Looking at the pictures, the new design resembles an upscale taco restaurant and a restaurant with table service.

The four locations will be refurbished this summer, and last year’s new Cantina design will expand to more locations. The Cantina design debuted in two locations, in San Francisco and Chicago. It features an open kitchen layout, sharable menus and serves alcoholic beverages.

Each of the locations will test a different design: California Sol, Heritage, Modern Explorer and Urban Edge.

The company says California Sol honors its California heritage and is designed to embrace the “laid-back, beachy feel.” Heritage is a modern interpretation of the chain’s original style, “characterized by warm white walls with classic materials in the tile and heavy timbers.” Modern Explorer is another version of the Cantina design, designed to fit in a suburban or rural area. Urban Edge is an “eclectic mix of international and street style done the Taco Bell way.”

“It’s no longer one size fits all,” stated Deborah Brand, VP of Development and Design at Taco Bell Corp. “Consumers are looking for a localized, customized and personalized experiences that reflect the diversity of their communities – the flexibility in bringing these four designs to life gives us just that.”

Taco Bell renovated about 600 restaurants last year and opened 275. The chain expects to outperform those numbers this year and build 2,000 more restaurants by 2022.