Friday, May 9, 2014

Qdoba

It started several years ago when we found a new burrito restaurant in Seattle's Oak Tree complex, and it had a bit of a weird name. We decided to try it out with a few friends, and my first time in there, I remember jokingly commenting, "Yo quiero Taco Bell." One bite of Qdoba's burritos put to rest any desire of going to Taco Bell instead.

We then discovered there was a branch right near Lynnwood's Alderwood Mall, and we became regulars. The Oak Tree branch was fairly close to church, and the Lynnwood branch was pretty close to home. Especially at the Lynnwood branch, we were very impressed with the service. Pedro comes to mind as one manager who was particularly friendly. He got to know us well, knew what we liked, and sometimes even surprised us with special deals, or he would randomly bring chips and salsa we hadn't ordered to our table. One time we had a minor fire in our house (which was quickly put out), and somehow the subject came up the next time we went to Qdoba. Pedro, not knowing the extent of the damage, offered to come help clean up! One time my parents were visiting Colorado and went to a Qdoba there. They got talking to the manager, who was mopping the floor, and they mentioned Pedro and how amazing he was. When they got back home, they went to the Lynnwood Qdoba. When they mentioned to Pedro they had gone to Qdoba in Colorado, he said, "I know." That surprised them. It turned out that the manager they had talked to in Colorado (where the chain is based) was one of the company bigwigs. He had sent a message to the Lynnwood branch, commending Pedro for his amazing customer service, and calling him a legend. Sadly, Pedro eventually moved on, but others stood out for their legendary service.

Francisco was just as amazing as Pedro. He was very friendly, and had a remarkable memory. Eventually, he moved from the Lynnwood branch to the Oak Tree branch, where he still works. Since we don't go to the Oak Tree branch nearly as much as the Lynnwood branch, we don't see him nearly as much, but I have still been amazed at his memory. He has remembered what I like to get after a year of not going to that branch! Also, one time I went to the Oak Tree branch with a fractured arm, and for the next few times we went there (several months), he would ask about it. Since we didn't go to that branch all that often, it was all the more impressive. He recently told us he still remembers his childhood address in Mexico. He has an amazing gift of memory. I was also impressed on a recent visit to see Francisco come into the restaurants with treats (I think they were slushies) for the other employees. That's a mark of a great manager.

Since Francisco left the Lynnwood branch, it has had some great servers, and some not so great. By far, Pedro and Francisco were the best at that branch, but Juan, Olga, Rufino, and more recently Caleb, have been particularly outstanding.

I have also been very impressed with the corporate office. I like to commend servers who have been particularly amazing. On several occasions, I've done that for Francisco and Caleb (the others were before I started doing that). Allison in their corporate office has always responded with promises to pass on the good feedback to the branches in question. Whenever I've had a negative experience, I've sent a message to them, and they quickly responded with an apology and an assurance that they would pass on the feedback to the branch in an effort to improve. Recently, we went to the Oak Tree branch on a day when Francisco wasn't on duty, and I had to tell the servers four times what I wanted. I got the feeling they didn't even hear me the first three times, though I was speaking loudly. As with other times, when I sent a message on Facebook to the corporate office, Allison responded and gave me a free entree on my card, in addition to promising to pass that feedback on.

Just recently, Qdoba opened a brand new branch in Lynnwood. I got my aforementioned free entree there, and the service has been amazing. Everyone welcomed us in a friendly manner, and has gone out of their way to help. The second time we went to the new branch, earlier this week, they were having their grand opening celebration. I tried the new mango mojo burrito, which is amazing. Sarah checked with us several times to make sure we were doing all right. She cheerfully answered our questions, and even brought us some freebies, as it was their grand opening celebration. As we were about to leave, she brought us coupons for a free mango mojo entree. We went back for dinner today. I got my dinner for free, thanks to the coupon! Rahwa recognized us, since we'd been to that branch all of twice before that. I was impressed. Sarah arrived while we were in line, and she said, "You're back!" I was also impressed to observe that Jake, who rang us up, was still helping customers during his meal break. He was sitting at a table eating, and he asked a nearby customer if she was doing all right. Qdoba has lemons and limes in containers by their silverware, napkins and soda machine. I like to get some to put in my drink. When I opened the lemon container, I noticed they looked dirty and pointed that out to Sarah. She immediately emptied the container and went and got fresh clean lemons. Meanwhile, I put some limes in my cup and filled it with water. When she came back, she brought the lemon container to our table and offered some to me!

Needless to say, Qdoba is an amazing restaurant. Over the years, I've had positive and negative experiences with them, but their food is amazing, and their service is usually incredible, both on the local level and the corporate level.

Five stars.

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