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Jack in the Box Unloads Fast-Casual Chain Qdoba for $305 Million

 The Chipotle competitor has more than 700 locations

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A newly redesigned Qdoba restaurant exterior in Omaha Qdoba

2017 continues to be a blockbuster year for big restaurant deals: Jack in the Box is selling fast-casual Mexican chain Qdoba to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $305 million, Reuters reports.

Qdoba was founded in Denver in 1995, two years after Steve Ells launched pioneering fast-casual chain Chipotle in the same city, and the remarkable similarities between the two chains — from the store interiors to the menu — have led to many side-by-side taste tests and arguments over which restaurant is superior.

Jack in the Box purchased Qdoba back in 2003 for $45 million, at which point it had 85 locations. Qdoba now has more than 700 locations across North America (versus Chipotle’s 2,200-plus stores) and approximately half of those are operated by franchisees. Its new parent company Apollo also owns a controlling stake in Chuck E. Cheese.

Chipotle’s recent sales woes apparently haven’t driven customers to Qdoba, as USA Today notes the newly acquired chain has reported falling sales of its own in recent quarters, thanks to multiple factors including rising labor costs, increased competition in the fast-casual sector, and skyrocketing avocado prices.

For many years the biggest difference between Qdoba and Chipotle was that the former served queso; Chipotle finally introduced its own take on the cheese dip in 2017, to decidedly mixed reviews.

Jack in the Box to Sell Qdoba Restaurant Unit for $305 Million Cash [Reuters]
With Chipotle Down and Out, Competitors See Opportunity [E]
Arby’s Is Buying Buffalo Wild Wings for $3 Billion [E]

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