Qdoba enters Austin, Texas, via Reef ghost kitchens

Dive Brief:

  • Qdoba will sell its menu from two Reef Technology ghost kitchens in Austin, Texas, the Mexican chain announced Friday
  • Offerings from these locations will be available on DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates and Deliveroo.
  • This partnership marks Qdoba’s official debut in both the Austin market and the ghost restaurant space, CMO Karin Silk said in a statement, though the chain has said it would pilot ghost kitchen units with Reef in the past.

Dive Insight:

This ghost kitchen play builds on Qdoba’s earlier entry into virtual brands. In June, the chain launched its Pure Gold by Qdoba brand, which is available in select markets via third-party apps.

At the time, the company shared that expansion was a possibility, though it’s unclear if Pure Gold’s menu will be offered alongside Qdoba’s traditional offerings at Reef’s Austin locations. Qdoba announced it would trial ghost kitchens with Reef in March, in Austin as well as Seattle and Atlanta. The restaurant company plans to open 25 locations with Reef. Qdoba didn’t respond to questions for additional details by press time.

Reef continues to sign expansion deals with brands despite widely reported problems at the company. In Houston last year, several Reef units shuttered after inspectors discovered they were operating without proper permits. But the company has worked with city legislators in several markets including Dallas — less than three hours from Austin — to create pilot programs that aid its mobile restaurant vessels to reduce friction between Reef’s operations and local regulations. The company has also begun entering markets through more traditional brick-and-mortar commercial kitchens, avoiding potential permitting issues with its vessels.


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