SINCE 1988

Qdoba is Aiming to Double its Footprint


Qdoba has closed its inaugural $305 million securitization, just over a year after its acquisition from private equity firm Butterfly. That acquisition, for an unspecified amount, merged Modern Restaurant Concepts with Qdoba into one fast casual platform.

Qdoba plans to use the capital structure to refinance its existing debt and invest in initiatives such as remodeling and adding digital menu boards. The company also has ambitions under new CEO John Cywinski to approximately double its current unit count of 750 restaurants to about 1,500 restaurants. Since its acquisition in 2022, Qdoba has achieved an asset-light business model, refranchising over 120 of its 750 locations. This strategy shifted its mix to nearly 80% franchised. Also, according to the company, Qdoba achieved 6% systemwide same-store sales growth in fiscal year 2023, ending Oct. 1.

“We’ve experienced immense transformation over the past year and are proud to announce this transaction as we look to further Qdoba’s status as the No. 2 Mexican fast-casual brand in the U.S.,” Cywinski said in a statement. “This deal positions Qdoba for accelerated investment and growth in what I believe to be the most attractive category in the restaurant industry.”

Indeed, plenty of white space exists in fast casual Mexican category. Qdoba’s closest competitor, Chipotle, finished last year with about 3,130 locations, according to Technomic Ignite data, while Moe’s Southwest Grill has just over 630 locations. The categorical competitor average is 355 units. Qdoba finished 2022 with $920 million in sales, a 4.8% increase from the year prior.

“Under Butterfly’s ownership, Qdoba has continued to accelerate and emerge as the leading Mexican franchisor uniquely suited for this transaction,” Francesco D’Arcangelo, principal at Butterfly, said in a statement. “This is more than a financial milestone; it’s a testament to our conviction in Qdoba’s capacity to propel the fast-casual Mexican sector, and we are thrilled to be a part of its remarkable growth and evolution.”


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