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Mexican-inspired restaurant chain Taco Bell has opened its first outlet in China, near Shanghai’s landmark Oriental Pearl Tower in the Lujiazui business district.
The restaurant has opened in conjunction with Yum China Holdings, which is the licensee of Yum! Brands in Mainland China.
“Leveraging our deep insights into Chinese consumer preferences, developed from close to 30 years working in this market, we researched and fine-tuned the Taco Bell menu for China, and the initial response from customers is very encouraging,” says Yum China CEO Micky Pant.
Favourite items on the brand’s menu have been adapted to local tastes, plus sauces have been developed. Items such as the Shrimp and Avocado Burrito will be offered only in China Taco Bells, and the Crunchy Taco Supreme now has Taco Bell’s signature nacho cheese sauce while the Volcano Chicken Burrito features spicy Sriracha sauce.
Customers can order shared plates featuring seasoned nacho chips, spicy fried chicken and Mexican fries. Drinks available include cold draft beer and specialty cocktails such as the Margarita and the Mojito.
There is an open kitchen so customers can see their food being made to order. There are also self-order kiosks.
The restaurant has been officially launched following a soft opening during which customers have been sharing their experience of the brand through social-media posts, blogs and videos. More than 1000 people took part in a selfie soft-opening promotion.
“Built around the concept of ‘Live Mas’, which literally means ‘Live More’, Taco Bell encourages its customers to try new things,” says Pant. “I look forward to creating experiences that surprise and delight people as we expand the Taco Bell brand in China.”
The Shanghai restaurant showcases Taco Bell’s classic California-inspired look and design. It features surfboards hanging from the ceiling as well as guitars and graffiti art. It also integrates advanced technology throughout, including free Wi-Fi, digital ordering kiosks, digital menu boards and a range of payment options.
“Building restaurants in new international markets is a key component to the overall growth and evolution of Taco Bell, and we’ve just scratched the surface of our global unit expansion potential,” says CEO Brian Niccol. “The opening of this restaurant in China is an exciting milestone for the brand, as this market holds tremendous growth potential.”
Taco Bell has more than 7000 restaurants, more than 300 of them in 26 countries outside of the US. It aims to reach 1000 restaurants internationally by 2022.
Yum China Holdings, with executive offices in Shanghai, has exclusive rights in mainland China to KFC and Pizza Hut as well as Taco Bell. Yum China also owns the East Dawning and Little Sheep concepts. With more than 7300 restaurants and 400,000-plus employees in more than 1100 cities, Yum China generated more than $8 billion in system sales in 2015.
Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, was the first quick-service restaurant to offer American Vegetarian Association (AVA) certified menu items. Taco Bell’s 350-plus franchise organisations serve more than 42 million customers each week through 7000 restaurants across the US, as well as through its mobile, desktop and delivery ordering services.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Yum! Brands has nearly 43,000 restaurants in 135 countries and territories. Worldwide, it opens more than six new restaurants a day on average.