Taco Bell has opened a “digital only” fast-food joint and bar in Times Square that uses automated kiosks to take food orders — but it will still serve booze the old-fashioned way.
The Mexican-themed chain said Tuesday the new location in the heart of Midtown features a bank of 10 kiosks where customers place their orders and pay. Opposite the kiosks stands a wall of locked cubbies that dispense tacos, burritos and chips.
The cubbies harken back to the days of automats that had populated Times Square in the decades through the 1970s, but Taco Bell said its new eatery represents the most “forward-tech” eatery in the chain.
Customers can see their burritos getting wrapped in the open kitchen, but when the order’s ready, it’s placed in heated cubbies that then light up pink. Customers enter their order number on the cubby’s touchscreen and the door opens.
Still, Taco Bell told The Post that a human being will be stationed at a counter ready to take orders and accept payments.
They’ll also be charged with serving the drinks and checking IDs. The new location will offer beer on tap and Taco Bell’s usual booze menu, which includes Twisted Freezes with rum, tequila or vodka as well as White Claw drinks.
“Built with the energy and on-the-go vibrance of the city in mind, the newest restaurant embraces technology in a whole new way to serve the demands of New Yorkers,” Taco Bell, which is owned by Yum Brands, said in a statement.
The automated concept is expanding at a time when Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants are finding it difficult to hire workers. Last week, the Mexican style chain said it hopes to hire 5,000 people in one day later this month at some 2,000 restaurants across the country. Job applicants aren’t even required to leave their cars to be interviewed and complete their applications.
The Irvine, Calif.-based chain is introducing a new menu item at the Times Square store, the $3.59 Bell Apple Freeze.
The store is the 20th Cantina in New York, which represents 10 percent of Taco Bell’s locations and where the chain is expanding by 25 new eateries this year.