Word of Mouth

Denver-based Qdoba rolls out new restaurant design to showcase brand evolution

The Denver market has given rise to several of this country's fast-casual concepts, and one of those is Qdoba, which opened its first restaurant here in 1995 and has since expanded into a chain of over 500 restaurants in 43 states.

Now the burrito-monger is pushing a bit of brand evolution, embodied in a new restaurant design. And that restaurant design will be rolled out at the second Qdoba in the country, the one at 1533 Market Street, with plenty of fanfare.

The LoDo space will get an upgrade meant to call attention to some of the things Qdoba does that guests may not know about, like hand-cutting tomatoes or hand-seasoning the pork shoulder. In order to showcase that, says Doug Thielen, manager of non-traditional marketing and public relations, "we moved the prep counter out in the open as opposed to leaving it behind a wall."

The new restaurant prototype will also get a photo wall showing the evolution of the Qdoba brand, an easier-to-read menu board and a sleek, modern update of its decor. And this is a glimpse of where the chain is going aesthetically, too.

"We're rolling the prototype out across the country to be offered up to franchisees," says Tricia Bennett, who does pubilc relations for the company.

The Market Street outpost is closed now but will reopen with the new restaurant design on Monday, January 31. And in celebration, the place is giving away scratch cards on the 16th Street Mall this week, good for things like free chips and salsa and buy-one-get-one deals. On January 31, the LoDo Qdoba will give prizes to each lunch guest, and it will run a $5 lunch meal deal, which includes an entree and a drink, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. through Friday, February 4.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk