Just this morning we learned of a new truck on the road that’s affiliated with a big chain: Queso Quest presented by Qdoba. How did we learn of it? A barrage of furious calls and e-mails.
So, the Qdoba truck. It’s called the Queso Quest. They have a local Chicago improv guy named Joey Dundale acting as the face of the truck. Who approached whom to do this? It would be really cool if this guy was a queso connoisseur and wanted his own queso truck and found a way to have it financed by the chain in exchange for slapping their logo on some stuff; win-win -win. However, it looks like Qdoba just paid a sweet actor to promote their brand as usual (there is no mention of queso on any of the actors’ social presences), but instead of being on a billboard he’s live and on wheels. They have a video that shows Joey being presented with the wheels and someone showing him the stocked product, but they left out the explanation of who Joey is, why queso, why Joey, and why a truck? Is Joey a long-time employee of Qdoba? Did he win a queso fanatic contest? We are left with more questions than answers even after seeing their introduction video:
Nothing against Joey (truly), readers seem to like him (even though they poke fun at the fact that he pronounced the “s” in Illinois in the above video); Qdoba is the one that’s going about this all wrong. I agree. The Queso Quest’s map-heavy website doesn’t say anything about their truck menu nor show you where the truck will be, instead it shows you where Qdoba brick-and-mortar locations are and where the truck has stopped in the past. Not too useful for a food truck, very useful to push traffic to brick-and-mortar stops. So, their goals are obvious and down right offensive to some.
My issue with this is bigger than one truck or one company: what this underscores for me is that Chicago’s legislation is leaving a gaping hole of opportunity in the Chicago market for these (largely unwanted) chain trucks while they squander local culinary talent and keep their trucks at bay. Most food truck freaks appreciate the homemade, chef-level cuisine, not just the convenience of the truck. It’s about reconnecting with food and where it comes from, instead of just eating food because it’s nearby. Find me a corporate truck that’s driven by the CEO of the company (or even the corporate chef) and then we can talk seriously about chain trucks. Or, better yet, I’ll steer you towards the Macy’s Culinary Council’s travelling Food Truck A Go-Go: though it was sponsored by a chain seemingly irrelevant to food trucks, they bridged the gap and made it relevant while also connecting food truck freaks with the chefs responsible for the food they were noshing on.
If the city would alter legislation to allow trucks to cook, our talented chefs could hit the road. Given the choice between patronizing a creative truck run by local talent and a chain truck, guess which one people will choose?
While many are criticizing these corporate trucks now, somehow I think we’ll change our tune a little bit (and that’s not a hyperbole; I only forsee a subtle change in attitude) come the bitter winters, especially for those of us without restaurants nearby. There is only 1 place to grab a quick bite to eat within a 3 block radius of my workplace in the West Loop. In the winter, that feels a bit more like a 3 mile radius. So, I will welcome any food truck at anytime to rescue me from the monotony of my lunch hour.
While having corporate trucks hitting the road might serve as gateway trucks the the more mainstream market (later introducing them to our more “hardcore” trucks), that could eventually lead to having effect that big box stores had on ma’ and pa’ stores: dissolution. I know, I know, that may seem a bit histrionic, however it is an option and a possible reason for tweets like this one:
Is Qdoba yummy? Yes. Are there enough street corners and diners in Chicago for them to join our fleets? Yes. Do I expect them to be welcomed with open arms to the food truck scene? We shall see. Based on reader feedback, many people think some small changes they could make would do them worlds of good. Here’s my challenge to you, Qdoba: get an executive on board and deliver me some queso. If you do that, I’ll give you a few tips about how to play game more nicely and share with you comments from community members (who have explicitly said it’s okay to share their thoughts).
What do you think about this truck? Like? Not a fan? Indifferent? Share in the comments area below!
NOTE: We do not speak for the entire community. These thoughts are our own with a sprinkling of comments from Chicago-area food truck freaks who have expressed their thoughts to us directly.
UPDATE: @QuesoJoey responded to our article. When we assured him that no one is against him (the person), but it’s the corporate stuff that’s not sitting well, the response got even weirder. Not sure about you, but this further solidifies for us that this is a giant corporate flop and not an innocent young guy who just wants to put cheese on stuff. We’re not hating, we’re just calling a spade a spade, Qdoba.