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Moe’s vs Chipotle vs Qdoba & Others: Where People Are Eating?

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Remember those fun times when Donald Trump wasn’t President and the world thought that it was impossible for someone who promotes hatred and brags about the size of his hands (and other body parts) to be elected the President of the greatest democracy in the world? Let’s take another stroll down memory lane and remember Marco Gutierrez, a Trump supporter, who said on TV that if nothing is done to U.S immigration policy, there will be “taco trucks on every corner”, a “threat” that was rejoiced on social media, because America likes tacos. And not just tacos, but Mexican food in general. Even President Trump likes it, as long as it’s made in a building that has his name in big gold letters on it.

Now, even though the fate of Mexicans in the U.S. is uncertain, Mexican food is here to stay due to its popularity. Just to give an idea of how much Americans like Mexican food, it’s enough to mention that there are more Mexican restaurants in the U.S than there are Hamburger restaurants. More specifically, in 2014, there were 54,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. compared to around 50,000 Hamburger restaurants, according to CHD.  Mexican restaurants in the U.S employ around 880,000 people and the industry is projected to continue it’s growth until at least 2020. In addition, Statista estimated that nearly 234 million Americans used Mexican food and ingredients last year.

One factor that is contributing to the success of Mexican restaurants in the U.S, particularly fast food restaurants, is the large size of the Hispanic minority group in the country. Their median household income is generally below average across the country, which is likely to affect their dining decisions and preferences. In turn, this had a positive impact on Mexican chain restaurants, many of which are operated by large publicly-traded companies like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK), Del Taco Restaurants Inc (NASDAQ:TACO), and Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM).

Having this in mind, we have selected five Mexican-style restaurant chains and their operators: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), Qdoba, owned by Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK), Moe’s Southwest Grill, held by private company Focus Brands, Del Taco Restaurants Inc (NASDAQ:TACO), and Taco Bell, owned by Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM). However, the companies that own the brands operate only a portion of the restaurants, while a significant number are held under franchise agreements, even though none of them are considered to be as profitable as other fast-food franchised restaurants like McDonald’s or Subway, which were included in our 14 Most Profitable Franchises compilation.

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