Two years after a Kennewick Taco Bell was torn down and rebuilt, a north Richland Taco Bell is getting a makeover of its own.
Taco Bell, at 1825 George Washington Way, is temporarily closed for an $800,000 makeover to bring it to the modern brand standards spelled out by Taco Bell owner Yum! Brands.
The updates include a down-to-the-studs interior remodel, electronic menu boards, more space in the kitchen and a new drive-thru, said John Arthur, president of Yakima Restaurants Inc., an Ohio-based company that owns and operates 32 Taco Bell franchises in Ohio and Washington.
Arthur manages the 10 in Washington.
His identical twin brother manages the Ohio ones.
The city of Richland issued permits on Aug. 21.
Taco Bell is one of two restaurants that operate in pads at Washington Plaza, a Safeway-anchored strip mall at McMurray Street and George Washington Way. Shari’s is the other. The complex was first developed in 1981.
Arthur said the exterior hasn’t been significantly updated in the 30 years since it was built. Yum! Brands’ new standards for Taco Bell supplied the impetus to remodel, but he said Yakima Restaurants is going well beyond the minimum expected.
A bump out will add more space in the kitchen as well as storage space to better accommodate employees.
The restaurant is in the top 3 of the 10 Northwest locations for sales, he said.
It is also the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Arthur attributes that to the loss of drive-by traffic since many Hanford site workers began working from home.
The restaurant will reopen in early to mid-November as a drive-thru. Although restaurants can open at 25% capacity, Arthur won’t reopen the dining room until it feels it is safe for employees.
About a third of the Richland employees are posted to the company’s Road 68 location in Pasco. The remaining workers were laid off.
Arthur plans to remodel four Yakima-area Taco Bell locations in the next one to two years.
Baxter Construction is the general contractor.
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