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Taco Bell is opening this automated, boozy restaurant in Times Square — take a sneak peek inside

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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Taco Bell is making a big bet on the late-night party scene returning to New York City after the COVID-19 pandemic — and people wanting a few tacos for the subway ride home after a blistering night out on the town.

The Yum! Brands-owned chain said Tuesday it will open one of its new Cantina-themed restaurants in Times Square on Wednesday. It will be housed inside the historic Paramount Building, which was built between 1926-1927.

Gone are the traditional analog menu boards that are hard to read several drinks in. They are replaced by 10 touchscreen ordering kiosks (yes, you will have to touch the screen to order). The location — which will sell alcoholic drinks in keeping with the Cantina business model — will also have a separate double-door entrance to service those that ordered ahead via the Taco Bell app. 

Once opened, Taco Bell will have 80 locations (60 Taco Bell restaurants and 20 Cantina-style locations) operating across New York's five boroughs. 

Here is a walk-through of the new location. 

People are greeted by a giant Taco Bell sign. You know it will be a different dining experience as the logo isn't your standard run-of-the-mill Taco Bell logo. 

Taco Bell enters Times Square.
Taco Bell enters Times Square.

Welcome to Taco Bell, how may I take your order? 

Well, not exactly. You place your own order —and pay for it — on any one of the 10 touch screen machines and then head to the pick-up counter pictured at the back of the restaurant. If you ordered via the app, you can pick up your grub from the cubby holes, lit up in pink to the right, in the below photo.

You place your own order at the new Taco Bell in NYC.
You place your own order at the new Taco Bell in NYC.

This Taco Bell is built mostly for one thing only: Get your food super quickly and get back out into the party scene. Notice all the touch screens for food and drinks and likely minimal interaction with an employee (as they are in the back making the food, not taking orders).

Taco Bell's new NYC restaurant is all about speed.
Taco Bell's new NYC restaurant is all about speed.

Speaking of drinks, you order those from a touchscreen, as well. Want a hydrating Gatorade after your 10 alcoholic beverages? This machine has you covered. Thank you Gatorade owner, PepsiCo

The digital drink machine inside Taco Bell's new NYC location.
The digital drink machine inside Taco Bell's new NYC location.

When you say bye-bye to the historic Paramount Building (notice the gold ornamentation below), there's a reminder that you can save yourself a few minutes next time by ordering ahead. And hey, wipe the touchscreen down if you decide to come again. We are still in a pandemic.

Goodbye from Taco Bell Times Square.
Goodbye from Taco Bell Times Square.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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