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How Jennifer Lawrence Unwittingly Holds the Key to Qdoba's Survival

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Can an imaginary friend help Qdoba rise up against its biggest competitor, Chipotle?


Burrito chain Qdoba is hoping to distinguish itself from fellow burrito chain Chipotle by enlisting the help of an imaginary woman. Yes, Qdoba's grand plan to beat its ultra successful competitor hinges on a person that does not actually exist. According to Fast Company, the restaurant's plans to "redesign everything from the store architecture... to the menu" all center around the tastes of "the Quentessa," a woman Qdoba employees have never talked to because, well, she is not real.

David Craven, the chain's Vice President of Brand Marketing (and apparent imaginary friend enthusiast), explains that the Quentessa is a "naturally magnetic person [that] leads a story-filled life" and apparently really likes eating at the chain. He adds, "Guys want her number, and girls kind of want it, too." Quentessa was dreamed up by Phrophet, a branding agency that Qdoba brought on to help them woo their target customer — primarily men between the ages of 18 and 24 — which could explain the weird seductiveness and sexualization of the Quentessa. She is apparently modeled after the likes of Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. This is a bit surprising, considering that Lawrence's character is a widow with some notable neuroses while Thurman's is a revenge-bent assassin.

The company is now redesigning its restaurants to be a "space, literally, that the Quentessa would want to invite people to," even though she is imaginary and can't actually invite people anywhere. The Quentessa-inspired changes to the restaurants include wood-topped tables that encourage customers to linger and interiors with "bright color palette[s]" and graphics inspired by Mexican iconography such as "the masked wrestlers of lucha libre and the candy skulls of Dia de los Muertos." Chipotle, by comparison, features white walls, steel tables, and encourages efficiency.

The bathrooms were a major design point for Qdoba. Fast Company notes the chain "claims to have spent almost as much time on their bathrooms as the rest of their new stores." So what do the new and improved bathrooms look like? The women's room is "modeled as the Quentessa's powder room" while the men's room is supposed to look like a "luchadore's locker room."

The food is getting a makeover too: Qdoba hopes that cooking corn and flour tortilla dough fresh in the store will give it an advantage over Chipotle which uses pre-made tortillas that are just heated on a press. (Chipotle is working on a new tortilla recipe, however.) Would the Quentessa approve? Does she even eat carbs?