With the surge in app-based food ordering during the COVID-19 pandemic, Border Foods is doubling down on the trend, proposing an experimental Taco Bell location with reduced personal contact and additional lanes for app-based ordering and delivery.

The proposal was recommended for approval at the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission’s Feb. 10 meeting.

“We believe and we are investing a lot of capital, both financial capital and intellectual capital, that this is an industry changer, that people now are developing habits which they’re going to stick with, that they’ve found new ways of doing things,” said Barb Schneider, chief development officer with Border Foods.

“We believe that that industry, that potion of the business is going to continue to grow. The apps are getting much more sophisticated.”

The two-story, experimental design would have a kitchen on the second floor, four drive-thru lanes, and a pickup-only ordering lobby.

Three of the drive-thru lanes would be dedicated to app-based ordering and delivery, with food brought to the customer by dumbwaiter. One drive-thru lane would incorporate a conventional, face-to-face drive-thru ordering experience.

“We think it’s a win-win,” Schneider said. “We think it’s a game changer. And all I know is that I drive by a lot of restaurants where I see a lot of cars stacked.”

Located at 5931 94th Ave. N., the proposed site is near the intersection of Zane Avenue and Highway 610. Nearby are the relatively recently developed Hy-Vee, Mill City Credit Union, and the multi-tenant building containing a Chipotle, Jersey Mikes, Nail Ink, and Dental Care of Brooklyn Park.

“A lot of changes have come out of 2020 and this just being one of them, in addition to so many things requiring drive-thrus, the delivery of quick-service food is also part of that trend and this just goes to help deliver that,” said Eric Reiners, partner at SRA Architecture.

“We’re really excited about the design and feel that it’s not only a good fit for the area, but will be a wonderful test for this brand new prototype.”

“I think it’s an exiting project. It’s going to be exiting so I’m happy that it’s coming here,” said Commissioner Syed Husain.

According to Todd Larson, senior planner, a Wendy’s restaurant was previously approved at the site but the proposal never moved forward.

“I would say think you for picking Brooklyn Park for this test run,” Commissioner Christopher Herbers said.

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