Ladies and gentlemen, boozy freezes lovers of Chicago—gaze upon your first ever alcohol-serving Taco Bell in America. Unlike any Taco Bell you've laid your eyes on in this country, it finally soft opens today and will "officially" open on Tuesday, September 22.
The first in Taco Bell's "Urban Inlines" restaurants which the fast food mega-chain hopes will woo millennials in high foot traffic city locations—some of which will serve alcohol (like this one) and are branded as Taco Bell Cantina—Taco Bell Wicker Park attempts to hit all the boxes on the trendy restaurant checklist. Open kitchen? Check. Exposed brick, ducts and pipes? Check. Mural by local graffiti artist? Check. Shared plates? Check. Boozy freezes?
Actually, the boozy freezes are brand new anywhere, and the "shareables" section is new for any Taco Bell. The Bell's signature alcoholic drink, "Twisted Freezes" are essentially versions of their non-alcoholic freezes adding your choice of vodka, tequila or rum that come in three totally twisted flavors for either $6.19 or $7.19 each. There are also two beers on tap for $4 (Dos Equis for the Mexican theme, and a seasonal brew kicking off with Fat Tire), white and red wines ($4), and sangria. The shareables items combine nachos, "rolled tacos" (taquitos), quesadillas, and chicken tenders in pairs for $3, $4 or $5. The rest of the menu is similar to other Taco Bells.
A host of Taco Bell bigwigs, representatives and local franchisee Neil Borkan (whom executives termed "the driving force" behind this brave new Bell) presented this new marketing and operations initiative in a media preview on Monday evening while standing in their initial Wicker Park beta store, saying that after listening to their customers they decided some Bells needed "more urban elements." They crafted five marketing buzzwords to illustrate those elements: "urbanization" (targeting urban millennials), "localization" (local artwork, unique spaces), "transparency" (open kitchen), "digitization" (digital menu boards and flat-screen TVs) and "green" (LED lighting).
All the while, Wicker Park millennials constantly tried to come in only to leave disappointed and without boozy freezes after they were told it wasn't yet open to the public. The Boozy Bell is soft open now and "officially" opens at 1439 N. Milwaukee Ave. on September 22 at 7 a.m., and the millennials are already streaming through the door.