Mexican quick-service-restaurant chain Del Taco’s latest scalable prototype can work with a mix of real estate options. The new prototype capitalizes on current trends by leveraging a contemporary design package. Dubbed “Fresh Flex,” the prototype reconceptualizes the restaurant inside and out. Striking exteriors and distinctive interiors evoke the brand’s contemporized feel. At the same time, the design expands real estate opportunities to help lower net investment costs, provides convenience for guests and optimizes operational efficiencies.
The new prototype aims to strengthen key areas that impact guest satisfaction: restaurant accessibility, speed of service and brand transparency. It features additions to facilitate the multiple ways guests now interact with Del Taco. That includes third-party delivery pick-up stations, double drive-thru lanes dedicated to mobile orders/delivery driver pickups and dedicated parking areas for those who want to park, eat and go.
In collaboration with hospitality design firm MY Studio ID, Del Taco’s reimagined exterior and interior designs better communicate the brand’s commitment to being “Fresh as Del.” The Fresh Flex model enhances the restaurant’s curb appeal with its open, illuminated building structure, back-lit towers and vibrant color palette. Inside the restaurant, built-in coolers provide a transparent display of the ingredients that staff prep daily. Additional visibility extends to the brand’s working kitchen format where guests can see culinary staff prep and cook food.
Del Taco will apply this new store design to offer multiple buildout options as part of its “Menu of Venues” strategy, which allows building prototypes that vary in size from 1,200 to 2,400 square feet. The various prototypes allow company or franchise developers more flexibility in choosing real estate opportunities including small footprint drive-thru only models, drive-thru endcaps, conversions and freestanding sites. All buildings feature the fresh, modern design and provide strategic operational enhancements to improve overall performance.
“We put a major emphasis on optimizing kitchen efficiency. It is the production engine of our brand, so each new restaurant size scales around the kitchen,” says Del Taco Chief Operating Officer Chad Gretzema. “The operational enhancements in the kitchen as well as in the front of the house strengthen our four-wall economics and align us with our franchise partners’ top priorities while we drive new unit growth.”
As Del Taco continues to accelerate expansion with new and existing franchisees, the design’s consistent operational elements will help facilitate the development process, from the construction phase to crew member training. Beyond new locations, the chain will also apply the fresh design to current Del Taco restaurants as a remodeling opportunity.
“First and foremost, we needed a design that was going to support our aggressive growth goals,” says Billy Jensen, an operating partner of Jetz Foods, a multi-unit franchise group in the Southeast. “In site selection, a one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work, because every market is different. Del Taco understands that, and they’ve provided solutions to address common issues developers and operators see every day. As we look to the future, we truly have significant growth potential and are well positioned for the myriad of traditional and emerging ways guests want to interact with our brand.”