Nine Qdoba Mexican Grill locations were scheduled to close Thursday, and another 36 units are expected to shutter Friday across the country as part of a plan to remove underperforming restaurants.

Earlier this month, officials with parent company Jack in the Box Inc. said 67 company-operated Qdoba restaurants would close by Sept. 29, the end of the company’s fiscal year. The move followed a comprehensive review of performance and real estate across the 647-unit fast-casual chain, which included 340 company-owned units.

At the time, company officials declined to reveal which restaurants would close, saying they needed time to inform the employees. However, this week news of specific unit closures appeared on the company’s Facebook pages within certain markets.

Restaurants are scheduled to close in the Chicago, Southern California, Boston, Cincinnati, Ohio, New York City, Florida and Tennessee markets.

Tim Casey, who was hired as president of Qdoba in March, contends that the restaurant closures will help the chain emerge as a stronger brand.

The company is planning to focus future growth on high-density markets where Qdoba has strong brand awareness.

“By closing these locations and optimizing our company footprint, we can be more effective in focusing our advertising and marketing resources to support existing and planned restaurants in our core markets where we have high levels of brand awareness,” Casey said in a statement. “We also expect to provide an even better dining experience for our guests as our operations team concentrates its efforts on supporting these markets.”

In all markets except Northern Florida the company will continue to maintain a presence with either company-owned or franchised units, or both, said Jack in the Box Inc. spokesman Brian Luscomb.

All seven Qdoba locations in Manhattan were scheduled to close Thursday, but restaurants in Staten Island, Queens and Northern New Jersey remain open. Two locations near Nashville, Tenn., including Hendersonville and Cool Springs, also closed Thursday.

The market to lose the most Qdoba restaurants in this round of closures is Chicago, where 18 units were expected to shutter Friday. Addresses of the closing units are listed on the chain’s local Facebook page. In a note to Facebook fans, the company said, “It has been great serving you, and we thank you for your patronage at these restaurants. We’re still serving your Qdoba favorites at other locations in the Chicagoland area, including Wheaton, Schaumburg, Lincoln Park and the Loop.”

The Southern California market’s Facebook page lists 10 locations designated for closure on Friday around the greater Los Angeles area, including units in Westlake Village, Valencia, Moreno Valley, Redlands, Alhambra, Ontario, Thousand Oaks, West Covina, Simi Valley and Temecula.

In the Boston area, four units are designated for closure on Friday, as well as one location in Saugus, Mass. Two locations in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Fla., were also scheduled to close Friday. In Jacksonville, the company will not proceed with a new restaurant that was planned for the city’s Southside neighborhood. Two Cincinnati-market locations were also scheduled to close.

At an analyst conference Wednesday, Linda Lang, chair and chief executive of San Diego-based Jack in the Box Inc., said Casey is continuing to look at Qdoba’s organizational structure and where the company might better leverage synergies with quick-service sister brand Jack in the Box. Results of that effort will come later, she said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout