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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Food Delivery Up, Meal Kit Potential and More

What’s up with meal kits? More consumers are having restaurant meals delivered but there’s a catch. Dunkin’ Donuts cuts a major deal with BJ’s Wholesale club. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Qdoba Mexican Grill

Billing itself as an "artisanal Mexican kitchen," Qdoba has grown to more than 500 units and secured its position as a major force in the fast-casual restaurant segment.

QdobaConsistently adding upwards of 50 units a year, Qdoba has wrapped up a formula for success that relies on a core menu of burrito, quesadilla and taco fixings prepared fresh in-store — including slow-roasting its pork and hand-shredding its beef — and sales- and traffic-building limited time offers, such as Mini Street Tacos and Summer Fresh Mango Salad.

While LTOs keep things interesting, the chain's best strategic innovation of late is its Craft 2™ menu option, launched in January 2010. "It allows guests to mix and match two of our most popular items in one entrée for an average price of $5.99," says Ted Stoner, director of strategic product development. "It lets them try different things in smaller portions or balance a smaller portion of a heavier item with a salad. When the economy was so soft we really had to look hard at how we could entice loyal guests to come back in more often and also to attract new guests. This was a huge success on both fronts and it continues to represent a nice percentage of sales."

In line with a recent drive to promote its more healthful menu options, Qdoba even offers customers suggestions on Craft 2™ menu combinations that come in at less than 600 calories.

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1995
  • Headquarters: Wheat Ridge, Colo.
  • Menu specialties: Fresh Mexican cuisine that is handcrafted and prepared on an open grill
  • Service model: Fast-casual, take-out
  • Ownership: Qdoba is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box, Inc.
  • Units: 500 in 42 states (60 percent franchised)
  • 2010 sales: $480,794,000
  • 2010 growth: Sales increased 11 percent, number of units grew by 3 percent
  • Projected 2011 growth: 60 to 70 new locations
  • Typical location: High-profile end cap and inline locations
  • Average unit size: Approximately 2,400 sq. ft.
  • Average kitchen space: Approximately 800 sq. ft.
  • Average check: $9.88 (FY 2010)
  • Total unit cost: $633,000

Key Players

  • Chief Executive Officer: Gary Beisler
  • Chief Operating Officer: Richard Pugh
  • Chief Marketing Officer: Karen Guido
  • Vice President of Franchise Development: Todd Owen
  • Vice President of Real Estate Development: Peder Kruger
  • Director of Strategic Product Development: Ted Stoner
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