Battle for burrito supremacy heats up
In a Main Street market already saturated with made-to-order Mexican grill franchises, another restaurant plans to dip its chips in the profits.
Qdoba, pronounced “kew-DOH-buh,” is tentatively set to open sometime this spring and will become yet another “fast casual” Mexican style restaurant to open alongside competitors like Chipotle, El Diablo and California Tortilla.
“Newark has a great, active community,” Qdoba’s newly appointed restaurant specialist Jana Wolfer said. “It just seemed like the right place to be in.”
A supposed natural expansion for the chain, Qdoba currently operates more than a total of 600 restaurants throughout the United States with three existing locations already in Delaware—in Wilmington, Dover and Brandywine, Wolfer said.
Formerly the Delaware Book Exchange, the Newark Qdoba will share the newly constructed space on 58 E. Main St. with Honeygrow, a highly anticipated healthy-eating chain that is also set to open in the coming months.
However, with so many accessible locations available to satisfy the mid-day chips and queso fix, students have mixed opinions about the brand’s arrival in Newark. While some excitedly await its opening, others feel that more culinary diversity is needed on Main Street.
“I feel like we have too many burrito places on campus as it is,” sophomore Tyler Walters said. “As someone who doesn’t really like Mexican food, I think we could really benefit from another chain.”
Another concern is how the chain plans to manage the staunch competition of Main Street, with California Tortilla being located directly across the street.
In December 2009, Qdoba introduced a kids’ menu, featuring items like grilled quesadillas with a side of applesauce, to attract families and combat the growing success of similar franchises like Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Offering kids’ meals, however, may not be a strong means of strengthening its appeal in a college town like Newark.
Nonetheless, in October 2014, Qdoba reinvented its pricing structure and launched an “all-inclusive” plan that allows customers to include all of the “extras” without incurring any extra costs, according to Nation’s Restaurant News.
“We encourage customers to pile their meals high with guac and queso,” Wolfer said. “Anything you’re craving; you can add in.”
Considering restaurants like Chipotle charge an additional $1.80 for guacamole, this could indeed make a difference in establishing the brand loyalty that California Tortilla, Chipotle and Santa Fe Mexican Grill have earned after years of continued business.