Taco Bell Reinventing Its Food and Image

Taco Bell is entering its cocoon as it begins its transformation into a more gourmet fast food restaurant. The Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE:YUM) chain is working with Miami chef Lorena Garcia to develop a more appealing menu similar to its competitor Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG). Taco Bell’s president, Greg Creed, said last month that Taco Bell’s new menu would feature ingredients such as black beans, cilantro rice and corn salsa.

Taco Bell was in dire need of a makeover as it has become the red-headed stepchild of YUM!  The company’s other chains, KFC and Pizza Hut, have continued to grow and have even branched out internationally while more than 1,000 Taco Bell locations have shut down since 2000. Bloomberg cited a September survey by Nation’s Restaurant News and consultant WD Partners that showed Taco Bell as having the worst quality food and atmosphere out of limited-service Mexican restaurants, which compared the chain to Chipotle and Qdoba (NASDAQ:JACK).

Bloomberg quoted YUM! Brand’s former senior project manager and Taco Bell store owner, Mike Brumagin, who said, “They have a tough road ahead to really reposition themselves as a direct competitor to Chipotle or Qdoba.” He added that Taco Bell has “always been about value.”

Competitors to Watch: McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), Wendy’s Arby’s Group Inc. (NYSE:WEN), Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:TAST), Morgan’s Foods, Inc. (MRFD), Papa John’s Int’l, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA), Domino’s Pizza, Inc. (NYSE:DPZ), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), Nathan’s Famous, Inc. (NASDAQ:NATH), Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK), Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), Sonic Corporation (NASDAQ:SONC) and AFC Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ:AFCE).

Further Reading: Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill and YUM Brands in Highly Competitive Situations>>

To contact the reporter on this story: Ashley Cloninger at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com