They have long served the professional and student demographic. Now, quick service restaurant Qdoba Mexican Grill wants to appeal to families.

The restaurant chain debut a kids meal option, and is marketing it by having a "Kids Eat Free" weekend Dec 19-20, offering one free kids' meal to children 12 and younger with an order of one regular entree, according to a press release.

"We found that parents who come to our restaurants want fresh and nutritious choices for their children," said Gary Beisler, president and CEO of Qdoba, in the press release. "And, we found that children are engaged in making healthier meal decisions when they can be creative and make their own choices."

The company's move follows closely on the heels of rival Chipotle that launched a kids meal option in the fall. The new trend is a sign of the times, where restaurant chains have been forced to be fiercely competitive and creative to lure in foot traffic. With joblessness on the rise, and the economy still in agony, more people are cooking at home rather than eating out.

At Qdoba, kids will be able to choose from a Li'l Chicken Naked Burrito (served in a bowl without a tortilla), Lil' Chicken Quesadilla or a single taco for approximately $3.99, plus tax, or a Lil' Cheese Quesadilla or vegetarian Naked Burrito for approximately $3.39, plus tax. Each meal includes a choice of one side item (applesauce, beans or handmade tortilla chips) and a beverage.


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