The Untold Truth Of Qdoba
Despite its popularity, there are some underground
fun facts about the Mexican fast-casual chain,
Qdoba, that you probably don’t know.
Here’s the untold truth of your favorite queso-making,
burrito-having, cilantro-rice-loving haven,
Qdoba Mexican Eats.
Food snobs who shun Jack in the Box may be
dismayed to learn that at one time, the late
night fast food hodge podge owned the fancier
and more hip fast-casual chain Qdoba.
In 2003, Jack in the Box bought the chain
for $45 million when it had only 85 locations
across 16 states, and was banking $65 million
in sales annually.
Qdoba’s president and chief executive at the
time was grateful for the boost brought by
Jack in the Box, telling the Denver Post that,
“They’re a great partner because they bring
us buying power… it doesn’t hurt to have
a very successful public company as your big
brother, but we operate very independently.”
Smart move, Jack in the Box.
Sales continued to rise.
In 2017, Qdoba brought in $820 million.
Jack in The Box sold Qdoba in 2018 for $305
million to Apollo Global Management, just
when sales began to slump.
Clearly, they wanted to go out on top.
Since its beginnings in 1995, Qdoba has undergone
quite a few name changes.
It started out as Zuma Fresh Mexican Grill,
then it turned into Z-Teca.
It went from Z-Teca to Qdoba in 1999 due to
a trademark-infringement, and those are a
lot of names in a short amount of time.
Did it affect their growth?
It’s possible, and the fact that their biggest
competitor — Chipotle — has always gone
by the same name doesn’t help.
Then in 2015, it went from being Qdoba Mexican
Grill to Qdoba Mexican Eats.
What’s the difference?
Well, Qdoba’s vice president of brand marketing
at that time, David Craven, told QSR,
“It’s a bit more conversational and relatable
to our core consumer — and it doesn’t position
the brand as being highfalutin’.”
With the name change also came some rebranding
and redecorating, a lot which was in an effort
to stand apart from Chipotle.
Removing “grill” from the name was a solid
start for Qdoba’s mission to not be in the
other burrito joint’s shadow.
When in doubt, blame the avocado.
In 2017, sales for stores that had been open
a minimum of a year saw a 1.4 percent drop.
The 50 percent increase in the price of the
avocado used to make their beloved guacamole…
the guacamole that they were slinging out
to customers free of charge.
They must have gotten over their avocado woes
by 2018, considering that the chain took the
time to basically make fun of Chiopotle’s
“Free Guac Day” by sending truckloads of avocados
to various Colorado Chipotle restaurants.
In addition to avocado price tags, Qdoba also
blamed lower sales on increased labor expenses,
as well as the stiff competition involved
with being a fast-casual chain in these fast-casual-lovin’
While the two are compared quite a bit, there
are some measurable differences between Qdoba
Some think Qdoba is cheaper, simply because
some locations still serve free sides of guacamole
However, in a 2018 QSR study, Qdoba actually
proved to be slightly more expensive on average.
Qdoba does offer a lot more menu options than
While Chipotle is deliberately simplistic,
Qdoba aims to give customers a lot to choose
from in order to differentiate itself from
the other fast-casual Mexican fave.
There’s breakfast items at Qdoba, and they’ve
even started serving the vegetarian-friendly
And the quesadilla is no secret menu speciality
at Qdoba—it’s straight up on the menu board
for your choosing.
Now let’s talk melted cheese.
Not only did Qdoba serve queso first, but
some people argue that their queso has always
been a lot better tasting than Chipotle’s
queso, despite that chain’s various attempts
And all those differences are important to
the Mexican fare-loving fan!
“I’m Lucky Day!”
“I’m Ned Needlemeye!”
“I’m Dusty Bottoms!
And together we’re…”
“The Three Amigos!”
If a Mexican restaurant brimming with taco
shells and burrito tortillas feels like the
antithesis to your Keto way of life, Qdoba
has got your back.
Yes, it’s possible at some restaurants to
figure out how to order a meal that’s keto-friendly
if you get creative, but it’s a lot more convenient
when the thinking is done for you.
The restaurant also wants to make sure keto
eaters don’t have to compromise on taste just
because they’re sticking to their diet, so
they’re now selling low-carb keto bowls.
Vegans are getting a boost by Qdoba these
days too, as the culinary masters at the brand
recently added a Grilled Fajita Vegan Bowl
to the menu.
The vegan option is coming on the heels of
the Impossible brand collaboration, which
offers both a taco and a bowl at Qdoba.
Again, ordering vegan is quasi-doable at other
places that have customizable menu options
but it’s a thousand times easier to just get
the speciality vegan bowl and enjoy it with
the promise that it will be both delicious
and completely, officially vegan-friendly.
“The food is great but beware the typhoid!”
is not exactly what you want to hear prior
to dining at a restaurant.
Unfortunately, Qdoba experienced some bad
and definitely weird press in 2015 when there
were three cases of typhoid fever that a doctor
and the Colorado Department of Public Health
and Environment traced back to a Qdoba restaurant
in Firestone, Colorado.
It’s hard to believe that typhoid fever is
even still a thing, but the outbreak was very
“How do you know that they’re fake.”
Hot dog fingers!”
Typhoid fever can be contracted by salmonella
typhi bacteria, which was attributed to a
food handler at the restaurant.
This is indeed a glaring reminder to wash
your hands… thoroughly.
The Qdoba restaurant cooperated with authorities
and assured them that the person was no longer
handling food, without specifying if he or
she was fired.
Qdoba has remained free of typhoid scandals
ever since, thankfully.
There’s nothing like a case of typhoid to
ruin your appetite for queso.
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