Denver-based Qdoba Mexican Grill, the first franchised fast-casual Mexican concept to reach 500 restaurants, proudly announced that it has promoted five executives to build upon the company’s positive sales and new unit growth through innovative marketing, franchise development and menu innovation. Promotions include: Karen Guido, Chief Marketing Officer; David Craven, Division Vice President – Marketing; Neil Harfert, Division Vice President – Restaurant Operations; Jim Piper, Division Vice President – Restaurant Operations; and John Dikos, Director of Franchise Development.
Despite the recession, Qdoba’s fresh, innovative menu and operations initiatives have helped it become one of the leaders of the fast-casual restaurant segment with unit growth of 15 percent over the past two years. In addition, Technomic listed Qdoba as the second largest fast-casual Mexican chain in the U.S. based on unit count.
“Over the last decade, Qdoba has become one of the most successful fast-casual Mexican restaurant companies,” said Qdoba CEO Gary Beisler. “In that time we’ve established a national presence with more than 500 restaurants operating in 43 states. Still, we believe there is a tremendous growth opportunity for our brand, with the long-term potential for 1,800 to 2,000 locations operating in the U.S. Our success is directly related to the hard work of our experienced and talented executive team. I’m very proud of their achievements.”
Below is more information on the individuals – several who hold long tenures at Qdoba – and their roles and promotions:
- Karen Guido – Chief Marketing Officer. Guido joined Qdoba in June 1998 as Vice President of Marketing, just three years after it was founded. Since her hire, Guido helped grow the brand from 19 restaurants to more than 500 locations. Over the years, Guido’s responsibilities have expanded to include oversight of research and development, brand strategy and positioning and brand research as well as management of all media planning and execution, along with multiple other duties involved in communicating and evolving the Qdoba brand image, message and overall sales objectives.
- David Craven – Division Vice President – Marketing. Craven joined Qdoba in August 2005 as a Marketing Manager with oversight responsibilities for Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Seattle. Approximately two years into his tenure he was promoted to brand strategy manager and soon thereafter was promoted to director of marketing (May 2008). He currently oversees ongoing brand research and helps lead brand positioning for Qdoba, which manifests through all facets of the brand, including advertising, media and marketing communications. In addition, Craven oversees all national promotional strategy and support material development, advertising and marketing creative development, print production and a variety of other brand initiatives.
- Neil Harfert – Division Vice President – Restaurant Operations. Harfert joined Qdoba in September 1998 as a restaurant general manager and training manager. Harfert then served as Director of Human Resources & Training before becoming the regional director of operations for restaurants in Seattle building 18 locations in the market. In 2005, he added St. Louis and Minneapolis to his group, and in 2008, became responsible for restaurants in Colorado and helped integrate and consolidate three California Qdoba franchise groups under the company’s corporate management. Harfert relocated to Denver in September 2009 and recently added Cincinnati restaurants under his area of responsibility. Harfert currently is responsible for approximately 85 Qdoba company restaurants.
- Jim Piper – Division Vice President – Restaurant Operations. Piper joined Qdoba in March 1999 as a regional manager of corporate restaurants in Texas. He was promoted to a director and charged with establishing new corporate restaurants in St. Louis and Chicago. He then became a franchise business consultant and eventually returned to company operations. Piper relocated to Chicago as the regional director of Midwest operations to manage the acquisition of two Michigan franchisees in addition to managing the operations of corporate restaurants in Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis. He is currently responsible for more than 100 Qdoba company restaurants.
- John Dikos – Director of Franchise Development. Impressed with Qdoba’s brand and the caliber of its franchise model, Dikos joined Qdoba in January 2007 as a member of the franchise finance and development team. Since then, Dikos has added more than 170 new restaurants through new development agreements with seasoned restaurateurs, in addition to helping existing franchisees continue to grow and add to their development commitments. Dikos previously worked in commercial banking at National Cooperative Bank in Washington, DC, where he managed franchise finance for 10 brands, including Qdoba.
Qdoba Mexican Grill is an artisanal Mexican kitchen where anyone can go to enjoy a fast, handcrafted meal prepared with fresh ingredients and innovative flavors. Each Qdoba restaurant showcases food that celebrates Qdoba’s passion for ingredients, a menu full of innovative flavors, handcrafted preparation and inviting service. Founded in Denver in 1995, Qdoba is among the nation’s largest Mexican fast-casual chains with more than 500 restaurants in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Qdoba is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK). Franchise development rights exist for additional Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurants in areas throughout the nation. For more information about Qdoba or about franchising opportunities with the company, please visit www.qdoba.com.