Qdoba Mexican Grill to open at least two restaurants on east and west sides

UPDATED — Restaurateur Eric Estes is bringing a new franchise to Wichita:

Qdoba Mexican Grill.

“We’re really impressed with … their culinary attitude (and) approach to food,” Estes says.

Estes Enterprises has 20 A&W and Long John Silver’s franchises in Kansas, including six of the seafood restaurants in Wichita.

Denver-based Qdoba, which was founded in 1995, has about 600 restaurants in 42 states.

Initially, Estes plans to bring Qdobas to Wichita’s east and west sides.

“Our plan is to have the first unit open by the end of ’12 or the very beginning of ’13,” he says.

The east-side Qdoba will be built first.

Leisa Lowry of J.P. Weigand & Sons is helping Estes with the deals, which aren’t yet finalized.

Wink Hartman II of Ink Construction is the contractor.

Qdoba is similar to Chipotle Mexican Grill in that customers order from a counter with a number of protein, vegetable and salsa selections for burritos and tacos.

Estes says there are a lot of healthy options available along with kids’ meals.

After the initial two Qdobas open, Estes says more are a possibility, especially in the greater Wichita market.

Wichita’s Chipotle restaurants are all of a sudden experiencing new competition from restaurants with similar styles.

In addition to Qdoba, a Freebirds World Burritos franchisee is eyeing the market, and locally owned Taco Tinga is opening this week at 3425 East Douglas in the former Dolci & Joe’s space.

At one time, Estes planned to bring A&W back to Wichita, but plans changed when the company sold.

“We decided to give that a rest for a while and take on the Qdoba Mexican Grill concept for Wichita,” he says. “We really like their model for kind of the fast casual.”

Estes says A&W still could be a possibility for the future.

“We wouldn’t rule it out.”