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April 20, 2012

Qdoba to open in Hutch Commons this fall

Qdoba Mexican Grill will spice up campus food options in the fall, joining Noodles Etc., Papa John’s, and Subway in Hutchinson Commons.

According to Richard Mason, head of Campus Dining Services, the burrito chain will utilize the location currently occupied by Southern Tsunami Sushi. Hutch will have a Qdoba fully operational by Orientation Week this fall, but will only offer pre-made sushi.

The idea originated last year as part of the Global Dining Initiative, which was developed with student input. “The focus groups and surveys that we conducted last year identified a need for a burrito concept on campus, and since then we have been working on identifying the burrito concept that would work best in the locations that we had available,” Mason said.

Dining Services, in collaboration with the student-run Campus Dining Advisory Board, considered other burrito restaurants, but they were ultimately not a “good fit.” Earlier this year, Aramark engaged in preliminary talks with Chipotle, one of Qdoba’s national competitors. However, a Chipotle branch on campus would have required special cooking equipment such as range hoods, which cannot be accommodated by the current space in Hutch. It would have also needed a full, Chipotle-trained staff of Aramark employees, whereas the Qdoba will be operated by University dining staff.

Mason also noted that the variety in Qdoba’s food made it a viable option. “We identified Qdoba as one that provides the culinary variety that we were looking to add to the campus options,” he said.

First-year Alana Cole welcomed the new dining option. “I don’t know what would be bad about it...I guess I’m going to get fat off of Mexican food,” she said.

But other students were skeptical that Qdoba would add variety to Hutch.

“All the food is really heavy. Burritos are heavy. Sushi is light, and there are other light options like miso soup,” second-year Gabrielle Newell said.

“Qdoba is not actually Mexican food, so I would rather have a real Mexican place as opposed to a franchised place that’s basically McDonald’s with burritos. Mexican food isn’t expensive. There are better options than Qdoba,” third-year Michael Heltzer said.

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