Taco Bell has welcomed a number of new siblings this year, and now it has another: a Vietnamese sandwich shop.
Yum Brands is launching a new Asian concept called Bahn Shop in Dallas, reports Escape Hatch Dallas. The parent company behind Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut will sell Vietnamese sandwiches (known as "bahn mi") as the concept gains traction in the mainstream.
Yum Brands recently debuted a chicken sandwich concept called Super Chix, also in Dallas, which claims to serve the "Last True Chicken Sandwich." The company has also dabbled in classier taco offerings, opening U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom this summer in Huntington Beach Calif., a fast-casual take on tacos with a menu that includes craft beer and wine.
Fast casual is one of the biggest growth markets in franchising, and companies are anxious to get in on the action. With bahn mi gaining acceptance on a national level, Yum Brands has the opportunity to premiere a fast-casual concept that could someday be the Vietnamese Chipotle.
With the growth of fast-casual, some chains have attempted to separate themselves from their fast food image. For example, earlier this year, Domino's announced a redesign and Pizza Hut began serving pizza by the slice. Still, even as companies revamp their design and emphasize "organic" or "artisan" products, research shows that chains customers consider to be fast food rarely get credit from consumers for food quality and fresh ingredients.
By launching Bahn Shop, along with Super Chix and U.S. Taco Co., Yum Brands has the chance to take a bite of the fast-casual market. Now, it just remains to be seen if it serves up food that can compete.