Taco Bell announces big U.S. expansion plans

Earlier this year, Taco Bell introduce four distinct designs for its stores — Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol and Urban Edge. | Courtesy of Taco Bell

Earlier this year, Taco Bell introduce four distinct designs for its stores — Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol and Urban Edge. | Courtesy of Taco Bell

Correction appended.

In just six short years, Taco Bell plans to add 2,000 stores in the U.S., the company announced Friday.

Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Louisville-based Yum Brands, has just under 7,000 stores in the United States and 220 internationally. The Mexican fast-food chain’s goal is to open 2,000 more Taco Bell stores by the end of 2022, and another 2,000 restaurants internationally within the next decade.

“Our planned growth over the next six years is going to help us reach $15 billion in global system sales by 2022,” said Brian Niccol, Taco Bell’s CEO, said in the announcement. “With that comes the need to attract and retain top talent so that we’re continuing to deliver the best customer experience possible.”

In addition to its focus on product innovation to bring customers into its stores, Taco Bell is playing with its store design. In May, the company introduced four distinct designs — Heritage, Modern Explorer, California Sol and Urban Edge — that franchisees can choose from. Each design allows the Taco Bell store to fit into its surroundings, the company said at the time.

The company also is opening a store constructed out of shipping containers in South California this fall, according to a report by The Orange County Register.

Taco Bell is trying to ride the high its been on since the introduction of the Doritos Locos Taco in 2012. The brand still performs well among the coveted millennial generation, with the average customer visiting every 11 days, according to Yum Brands CEO Greg Creed.

The chain also performed well in Minnesota-based research firm Piper Jaffray & Co.‘s recently released Taking Stock With Teens survey. Taco Bell ranked in the Top 5 among teenagers from upper-income families, who also said that their average check per visit was $5.98.

The new locations will add 100,000 jobs to Taco Bell’s rolls, the announcement stated. Taco Bell and its franchisees currently employ about 210,000 people.

Many of the jobs will be entry-level, but Taco Bell executives said that the company can help employees move up within (or find a solid job at another business) through the Start With Us, Stay With Us program it just unveiled. Taco Bell offers employees discounted prices for GED testing and resources that will help them pass the test. Through a partnership with Excelsior College, it also provides an opportunity for employees to take online college courses at a discounted rate.

“We understand that Taco Bell is a first job for a lot of people,” Frank Tucker, chief people officer at Taco Bell, said in the announcement. “Whether they want to start with us for a year or stay with us for life, we feel it’s our responsibility to make sure we’re offering benefits and programs that create innovators and leaders for our communities inside and out of our restaurants.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated how many stores Taco Bell plans to open in the United States by 2022.