Canadian Franchise

#1 Mexican Fast Casual Franchise QDOBA Sees Explosive Growth

QDOBA Mexican Eats® (QDOBA) has long been a key player in the fast casual franchising space. Voted the #1 Mexican Fast Casual Franchise for the fourth consecutive year by USA Today 10 Best, it’s no surprise that the brand continues to sign multi-unit development deals. This includes recently closing the largest deal in its history to bring even more restaurants to the United States and Canada as a part of its plan to open 2,000 units across the continent. 

Despite already having nearly 750 restaurants open across North America, with five more coming to the Ontario area soon, the brand still has plenty of white space available in Canada and the U.S. for qualified, passionate multi-unit operators with experience in development strategy. As its footprint expands, QDOBA continues to pride itself on its wide variety of cost-effective and flexible buildout options, ensuring it is the perfect addition for every community their franchisees are looking to grow into and serve. 

“If you come to me and say, I‘ve got 1,600 square feet of unique space, we’ll make that work for QDOBA,” said Jim Sullivan, chief development officer at QDOBA. “The brand is a good fit anywhere.”

Sullivan is correct: From traditional footprints — endcaps, drive thrus, and inline storefronts — to non-traditional venues such as airports, universities and colleges, QDOBA knows how to make an impact on the communities it serves, and thus makes for a positive investment for their franchisees. 

“We opened our first store in 1998 and every year since, we’ve opened up at least one store,” said multi-unit franchisee Ron Stokes. “ Last year we opened two stores, and the year before that we opened 7. We are getting the returns from QDOBA and see it as a brand that is growing.” Today, Stokes owns 58 stores across Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa

Newer multi-franchisee Jeff J. Froccaro of Q Restaurant Associates LLC agrees, citing customers’ favorable opinion of QDOBA over competing franchisees. 

“It has been very satisfying to introduce this special brand to new markets,” said Froccaro, “and to hear the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers who feel that QDOBA is far superior to competing franchises.”

The QDOBA team believes that successful franchises are built on flavorful food, frontline innovation, and strong business partnerships, which is why operators are set up to achieve this kind of success from day one of franchising with the brand. While other franchisors may be opting for a more hands-off approach these days, QDOBA is all in on helping their franchisees get on a path to success, even further expanding their development team to better support new and existing franchisees. This expansion includes bringing on industry veteran Lori Osley as vice president of franchise development. 

“While exploring a variety of franchise development leadership opportunities, I had a strong list of criteria for the brand that I was seeking to join,” said Osley. “The brand had to offer a great return on investment, the opportunity to onboard with various models of investments and ample white space to allow for continual franchise growth. QDOBA checked all of those boxes, and more.”

The “more” extends to other valuable areas of franchisee support. From real estate and location support; to training and operations support; to local marketing support leading up to a restaurant’s grand opening and beyond, QDOBA’s seasoned team of franchise development professionals ensure their franchisees have the support they need to be set up for success. 

Harsh Modh, the multi-unit QDOBA franchisee behind the brand’s Ontario expansion, said the franchisee support played a big role in his decision to franchise with QDOBA — in addition to their excellent food, of course. 

“What made QDOBA specifically stand out was the quality of its food – it’s amazing. I knew that I would have to love what I was going to eventually sell, and QDOBA’s food was it for me,” said Modh. “The quality is next to none at QDOBA, there isn’t even a comparison. On top of the amazing food, the corporate support that such a proven brand has to offer was important to me. The assistance that I have had already is amazing.”  

And while the corporate support for their franchise system is stellar, QDOBA knows that first a foremost, a successful food franchise needs one thing: Flavor. As competitors shift to commissary kitchens out of ease, QDOBA continues to put flavor and quality first with freshly-prepared, flavorful food made-in house — if you’ve ever spoken with somebody who has had QDOBA’s queso, or tasted one of the Flavor Bar’s newest additions, you know the difference this kind of care makes. Their dedication to flavor is what keeps customers coming through the doors, and it’s the reason that, even with nearly 750 locations across North America, the brand is still has space for aggressive expansion.

QDOBA also understands the importance of innovation and meeting customers where they want to be, a mindset that is responsible for QDOBA’s new partnership with REEF. This powerhouse partnership will allow QDOBA to get their food to their customers more easily through delivery. 

“Our strategic relationship with REEF’s innovative team empowers us to meet the increasing demand of flavor seekers across the US in an operations-minded and more sustainable way,” said Keith Guilbault, CEO of QDOBA. “REEF’s culinary ecosystem will give us the tools needed to grow and celebrate our flagship menu items, like our signature Queso & Chips, without compromising quality, freshness or flavor.”

It’s this incredible flavor and innovative mindset that allows franchisees to reap the financial benefits of franchising with QDOBA as well. With a new AUV of $1,998,222*, QDOBA makes an excellent addition to any multi-unit portfolio looking to expand into the Mexican food space. 

New territories are selling fast — check out QDOBA’s website to learn more