From the August 2000 issue of Startups

For Anthony Miller, working for Morgan Schiff & Co., a New York City investment banking group, just wasn't enough. He was looking for a challenge, something interesting and exciting to put his energy and expertise into. Miller found what he was looking for in Denver-based Qdoba Restaurant Corp. (formerly Z-TECA Mexican Grill), the quick-service Mexican food chain he co-founded in 1993.

"I left banking because I thought I would have more fun working for myself," says Miller, 32. Using the skills he gained at Morgan Schiff, Miller brought together the people who would help him create restaurants inspired by Mexican tacquerias.

"With Morgan Schiff, I had the opportunity to learn about the roles professionals play in construction, information systems, marketing, human resources, purchasing, accounting and finance," he explains. "All these areas are necessary in building a successful team in the restaurant business."

Part of that team was Robert Hauser, a friend of Miller's who later became vice president of kitchen operations and is now a consultant for the company. "I thought that with the right partner, the concept could be improved and appeal to customers," Miller says.

Since then, that concept evolved into a corporation with 11 corporate-owned and 37 franchised locations across the United States that serve healthy burritos, salsas and other Mexican favorites, along with vegetarian choices. This year, Qdoba hopes to build 25 to 30 new stores. "We want to be the leader in serving Mexican food to the adult consumer looking for unique flavors and high-quality, fresh ingredients," notes Miller.

The initial investment for a Qdoba franchise is between $250,000 and $300,000, including the franchise fee.

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