I woke up yesterday and immediately thought to myself that what Taco Bell needs most right now are Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos, as well as new store designs that include glowing, purple LED lighting on the outside paneling.
The much-anticipated taco upgrade is still in the works, but that new Taco Bell design is a working reality, with a test store at 15450 East 104th Avenue in Commerce City lighting up the evening sky like a giant, gordita-peddling nightlight.
I took a drive out to Commerce City to see this new fast-food beacon. The radiant Taco Bell is located in a relatively remote area, surrounded by grassy fields but still close enough to clusters of other businesses so that you can't quite classify it as being in the sticks. And at 7 p.m., the parking lot and drive-thru were busy with folks getting their dinner allotment of enchiritos with extra hot-sauce packets. Since it was getting dark, the exterior lighting was activated, and the top front and side panels gave off a purple luminosity that I'd spotted from a quarter of a mile away.
The new design features four nondescript tan, exterior walls with two panels, corner to corner, of black-metal slats with the purple LED lights behind them, so that at nighttime it looks like the light is shimmering out from in between the slats. The purple lighting is complemented by a couple of large, hot-pink Taco Bell logos, presumably placed there so that customers don't mistake the glowy building for a bank or some other place that does not sell tacos late at night.
The other cosmetic changes aren't as remarkable: less unnecessary decor in the dining room; smaller, more succinct menu boards; more stark, uncomfortable-looking tables and chairs. But then, the dining room furniture at older-model Taco Bells isn't very comfortable, either.
Commerce City is one of three tests of this new design; the others are in Sanger, Texas, and Redwood City, California. Three more are slated to open in 2013.
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Now if the higher-ups at Taco Bell would just start selling the promised Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos instead of torturing us with a protracted waiting period, I would be very grateful. And if they turn out to be glowing purple tacos? I'll be the first in line.