|Qdoba Mexican Eats|
Number of locations
|United States & Canada|
|Products||Burritos, Tacos, Quesadillas, Nachos, Taco salad, Tortilla soup, Mexican Gumbo|
|Owner||Jack in the Box|
|Slogan||What are you going to love at Qdoba?|
Qdoba Mexican Eats (// kew-DOH-bə), is a chain of fast casual restaurants in the United States and Canada serving Mexican-style cuisine. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box since its purchase from ACI Capital, Western Growth Capital, and other private investors in 2003.
Miller and Hauser met in New York City, where Miller was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch and Hauser was attending the Culinary Institute of America and working at the famed Le Cirque restaurant. Hauser developed most of the recipes and tried to design the menu to be healthier by replacing the use of traditional animal fats with vegetable oils and tried to use more fresh vegetables and herbs when he could. During the first year, lines stretched out the door during most evenings at dinnertime, but it usually took roughly seven minutes for customers in a 30-person line to get served. Zuma was a made-up name but was also the name of a friend's cat.
The Denver, Colorado, location was an immediate success, with first year revenues exceeding $1,500,000. The cost of opening the 1,300-square-foot (120 m2) store was only $180,000.
In 1997, the name of the company was changed from Zuma to Z-Teca Mexican Grill because of a lawsuit from another restaurant using the Zuma name in Boston and by confusion caused by the similar sounding ZuZu Handmade Mexican Grill chain that was operating in the Denver area at that time. Gary Beisler was hired in 1998 to replace Miller as president and chief operating officer while Miller remained as chief executive officer. By mid-1998, Z-Teca had 21 locations in 9 states, with 10 of those locations being franchises. At that time, a chicken burrito cost only $4.79.
Even though Z-Teca was another made-up name, there were lawsuits made by Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill in Arizona and Azteca in Washington state that the Z-Teca name was too similar to their names and it infringed on their tradenames. To overcome these problems, the name Qdoba was invented in 1999 by ad agency Heckler Associates. At the time of the name change to Qdoba Mexican Grill, Gary Beisler replaced Miller as CEO.
As of 2013, Qdoba operates over 600 fast casual restaurant locations throughout the United States. In 2003, San Diego-based Jack in the Box company acquired the chain from ACI Capital, a private equity management firm that was the outgrowth of commodity-trader A.C. Israel Enterprises in the 19th century.
The first Canadian location opened on December 3, 2012, in Brandon, Manitoba. A second location was opened in London, Ontario, three months later. A third location opened in Winnipeg in 2014.
Qdoba repurchased 25 stores located in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee from ZT of Louisville, one its largest franchisees, for an undisclosed sum in mid-2012. Tim Casey replaced Gary Beisler as CEO in March 2013. In June 2013, Qdoba announced it would close a total of 67 underperforming restaurants, including 18 in and around Chicago.
In October 2014, Qdoba changed their price structure to "all-inclusive" in which the price only depended on the type of protein ($7.80 for chicken or vegetarian items and $8.40 for steak, shredded beef or pork), but included all of the "extras" that previously incurred an additional charge, such as guacamole and queso sauce. Most people who routinely ordered the "extras" with their burritos did not see much of a price difference after the new prices went into effect. However, light eaters complained that if they wanted to maintain their light eating habits by getting a simple plain item, they were hit with as much as a $2 per item price increase (as an example, the Craft 2 which went up to $8.40 from $6.49) by paying for items they did not choose to get (like the guacamole), subsidizing other customers who usually paid for the "extras" in the past, and if they chose to get the extras which they normally don't get, those light eaters would increase their waistline through the increased intake of calories, fat, and salt that usually accompanied those "extras".
Faced with sluggish growth, management decided to make a change in their marketing strategy. As part of the new strategy, the trade name of the restaurants were changed to Qdoba Mexican Eats in October 2015 in the hope of trying to distinguish itself from similar sounding competitors.
Qdoba serves burritos made in the San Francisco burrito style, tacos, quesadillas, taco salads, chile con queso, tortilla soup, Mexican gumbo, and fresh guacamole. The restaurant fits into the "fast casual" category, offering both quick service and a higher quality of food than typical fast-food restaurants. Customers order by selecting an entrée then choosing its ingredients. All of the items are made in plain view of the customer. The chain's current slogan is "We Live Food."
To distinguish itself from some of its competitors, Qdoba serves breakfast, and some locations are open 24 hours on weekends.
The main national rivals to Qdoba are Chipotle Mexican Grill (which also started in Denver, two years before Qdoba), Baja Fresh, Moe's Southwest Grill, and to a smaller extent Panchero's Mexican Grill.
In 2006, the company was involved in a lawsuit in which Panera Bread attempted to invoke a clause in Panera's contract with the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, to stop the opening of a Qdoba Mexican Grill. The clause provided that Panera would be the only sandwich shop in the shopping center. Panera argued that burritos and other tortilla-based foods were, in fact, sandwiches. Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke ruled against Panera, concluding, "A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans." However, the Qdoba in Shrewsbury has since closed, while Moe's Southwest Grill and Chipotle Mexican Grill remain open across the street.
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- "Qdoba Frees the Flavor; "Extras" No Longer Cost Extra". MarketWatch (Press release). October 3, 2014.
- "Comments to "Colorado friends - join us downtown at 17th & Welton and you can get some of your nickels & dimes back! We'll be hanging out..."". Facebook. October 3, 2014.
- "Comments to "Price changes? I noticed that ur prices... - Shelly Ferguson Lindegren"". Facebook. November 5, 2014.
- Curtis, Nathan (November 6, 2014). "PILE IT ON! Qdoba Goes Toppings Wild...but at a Price". GutCheck.
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