The Digital Journalism Blog

Chipotle Ends the Qdoba Monopoly in Peoria

By: Alexandra Hess and Meg Ryan

After Qdoba’s long-reigning monopoly of Mexican grills in Peoria, Chipotle is moving in. Peoria locals now have a choice when it comes to oversized burritos made with fresh ingredients without having to travel to nearby cities over 30 miles away. Chipotle allows consumers to customize their own burritos, providing options even health-fanatics will enjoy.

Qdoba Prepared for Chipotle Opening

There are two types of “Mexican Grill” fast food chains: Chipotle and Qdoba. Both are known for serving up oversized burritos and other typical Mexican foods. So with a new Chipotle opening up in Peoria in just a matter of days, Qdoba workers are prepared for a change in pace.

East Peoria Qdoba General Manager Jolene McCoy said that though it might affect the Peoria location more, she still expects to see somewhat of a change in their guest count.

“At first, when they’re in the honeymoon phase, [Chipotle] might take a little bit of our guests,” McCoy said in a phone interview.

The Qdoba located in Peoria had no comment on the topic.

Even with the new competition, McCoy said Qdoba offers guests some unique menu items that can’t compare to Chipotle’s food.

“We have some signature flavors that catch customer’s eyes,” McCoy said. “We have flavors that Chipotle doesn’t offer.”

Some of these signature pieces include their 3-cheese peppery queso, ancho chile barbeque sauce and a ranchera sauce for the burritos. The Qdoba menu also has special side dishes that aren’t found at Chipotle, such as tortilla soup and Mexican gumbo that can be customized to one’s liking. The Mexican grill additionally has a breakfast burrito that can be filled with eggs, potatoes, chicken and/or Chorizo sausage.

However, both restaurants claim to have fresh ingredients all throughout their menu. They also each have their own healthier options for their meals. Qdoba allows customers to choose either flour or whole wheat flour tortillas while Chipotle has a brown rice alternative to the white rice.

From the beginning, Qdoba has offered Peoria locals a number of discounts and programs to increase loyalty in their customers.

“It’s not related [to Chipotle opening],” McCoy said. “But we’ve always had something.”

Along with the distinct Qdoba taste, they also have a wide range of programs to keep customers coming. One in particular is the company’s use of loyalty cards, through which customers are able to earn a free burrito after buying 10. These cards come with many benefits like “Double-point Tuesday,” where each burrito counts as two on their card, cutting their spending in half.

“We also have a quarterly prize program where we track the number of customer visits through the loyalty program,” McCoy said. “Whoever visits us the most often [in that quarter] gets a $10 or $15 gift card.”

Other special Qdoba deals comprise of a character race at Bradley University basketball games, a fishbowl raffle program using business cards and coupons in monthly fliers.

Even though these marketing tactics are always in full swing, it does give Qdoba an advantage over Chipotle’s fight for loyal customers. Chipotle relies heavily on its customers and staff to spread the words about the business.

“We don’t advertise and we don’t do any sort of like print advertising, billboards, commercials or anything like that,” said Chipotle General Manager Heather Celis. “We do mostly word-of-mouth advertising. There’s advertising that we have on Pandora, but other than that we just rely on our customers and our employees to tell everyone about Chipotle.”

Chipotle Calorie Counter

View where you can find Mexican grills in Central Illinois HERE


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