Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.
Never heard of Qdoba Mexican Eats? Don’t worry, you will.
The fast-casual chain has announced plans to bring 30 franchise locations to Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties over the next 10 years.
At the helm of what is the brand’s biggest deal is Boca Raton snowbird Michael Guiffre, who tells the South Florida Sun Sentinel the he would like to start with 12 locations in Palm Beach County.
“We are aggressively looking at locations in Palm and Broward,” he says. “I think we can open two by the end of the year, if not three.”
Qdoba says its dishes are free of artificial colors and high fructose corn syrup (excluding beverages) as well as lard, partially-hydrogenated oil and added MSG. The menu includes:
- Burritos, bowls, tacos and quesadillas in the $10-$12 range while kids meals cost between $5-$6. There are also vegetarian and low-carb options
- Side dishes such as black beans, cilantro lime rice, brown rice or chips with queso, guacamole or salsa are all under $5
- Desserts include chocolate chunk cookies for $1.19 and double chocolate brownies for $1.99
“From growing up here during my middle school, high school and college days and knowing the way the market is, I think [Qdoba] is a really good fit,” adds Guiffre, who now also lives in New York City. “It gives all the customers another choice to try. And once they try it, I think they’ll fall in love with it and make it part of their routine, eating there once or twice a week, if not more. We also plan to do some catering, bringing it into the offices.”
Now based in San Diego, Qdoba started in 1995 as Zuma Fresh Mexican Grill in Denver. Launched by chef Robert Hauser and investment banker Anthony Miller, the company was Z-Teca for a while before an advertising firm came up with “Qdoba” to avoid any previous entanglements with similarly-named restaurants as franchises began to spread across the country.
There are now more than 740 locations in the U.S. and Canada, including eight in other parts of Florida (mostly in the greater Orlando and Tampa areas).
“It’s a brand on the upswing,” says Guiffre. “It’s new. It’s cool. Its flavorings are a little bit different than the competition.”
Guiffre was in the mechanical contractor game for 24 years before getting in the food and beverage business around 2019 with 10 Dunkin’ locations in Manhattan.
“The F&B industry was something we were always interested in. It was something we wanted to do a long time. I’ve been very happy. I knew right away I wanted to get back in. I’ve been waiting tor an opportunity … for a long, long time.”