• California Tortilla

  • EXECUTIVE Q&A

Q&A With California Tortilla President and CEO Bob Phillips

California Tortilla’s president and CEO details why he was initially drawn to the fast-casual California-style Mexican franchise and what’s ahead for the brand.

What initially drew you to California Tortilla?

Initially, I was a customer. I loved the food, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the culture around California Tortilla. Being in the foodservice business already, I evaluated the brand at the time and saw amazing potential—particularly in the lines out the door. 

California Tortilla’s performance was strong, but as a Certified Public Accountant, knew that if I could create the proper systems to replicate what was happening at this one restaurant while controlling costs and labor, the upside was tremendous. 

What about California Tortilla makes it unique within its industry?

Our commitment to using high-quality ingredients, primarily. The breadth of our menu and the varied flavor profiles and tastes that can be found among our options are totally unique. Through the years, we’ve built this trust with our customers that has allowed us to be creative with different flavors and they’re always willing to try them—and find that creativity delicious.

And as a result of the trust we’ve been able to establish, our customer culture is strong. California Tortilla’s motto is to never lose a customer and every decision we make is rooted in that customer-centric filter.

Why is the brand a good investment?

Cal Tort is a great investment for a lot of reasons, but the primary two are great unit-level economics and the availability of prime territories. Our menu, service system and buildout are designed to be profitable, and our franchisees benefit greatly from that. Since we’ve elected to grow concentrically from our Washington, D.C.-area base, much of the U.S. is still available for development. We’re an emerging brand, so prime markets across the country are ripe with opportunity, which makes for a great potential investment with plenty of room to grow. 

What plans does California Tortilla have in the coming years?

Currently, we’re working on two projects that I’m particularly excited about. The first is a total upgrade of our current mobile app. Our current app has a loyalty feature and online ordering capabilities, but since we’re seeing an influx of sales coming from the platform, we’re investing in improving its functionality and capabilities to better meet the needs of both our customers and our franchisees.

The second, larger-scale upgrade we’re making to our franchise system involves our service structure. In our current state, customers order and pay first before receiving their food. With the implementation of our new process, we’re switching to a ‘pay last’ model. We’ve been studying the fast-casual segment, and more and more brands have adopted this method by the day. Doing so allows our customers to customize their order down the line and pay at the end. 

We’ve actually created a hybrid model; most ‘pay last’ concepts are ingredient-based, where food is added from trays, where we’ve incorporated curated menu items into this process. As customers go down the line, they can add or remove specific ingredients, resulting in an end product that is exactly what the guest wants. By reducing the friction in the transaction, we see this as a chance to increase our top line and appeal to the young consumer, above all, while simultaneously adding to our value proposition and giving us pricing power.

How do you support franchisees?

Our franchisees go through four weeks of comprehensive training at our training restaurant in Maryland. During the Grand Opening process, we deploy a specialized training team on-site for two weeks and upon joining the Cal Tort family, franchisees are assigned a dedicated Franchise Business Consultant who helps them navigate the issues that come with getting their new business off the ground. We guide franchisees through crafting a local store marketing plan and setting up a budget as well as processes that will set them up for profitable success.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me looks like a system full of happy franchisees. Generally, franchisees are happy when their unit is performing well, they enjoy their line of work and see an opportunity for growth. Happy franchisees also serve as great validators for future franchisees and a great source of growth for us, as a result. If we are keeping our franchisees happy, all sorts of good things will continue to happen.

MAKE IT TREND
MORE BRAND INFO
  • NAME

    California Tortilla

  • NO. OF UNITS CURRENTLY OPEN:

    40

  • start-up costs

    $402,400 – $697,000

  • FRANCHISE FEE:

    $40,000

  • California Tortilla

  • EXECUTIVE Q&A

Q&A With California Tortilla President and CEO Bob Phillips

California Tortilla’s president and CEO details why he was initially drawn to the fast-casual California-style Mexican franchise and what’s ahead for the brand.

What initially drew you to California Tortilla?

Initially, I was a customer. I loved the food, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the culture around California Tortilla. Being in the foodservice business already, I evaluated the brand at the time and saw amazing potential—particularly in the lines out the door. 

California Tortilla’s performance was strong, but as a Certified Public Accountant, knew that if I could create the proper systems to replicate what was happening at this one restaurant while controlling costs and labor, the upside was tremendous. 

What about California Tortilla makes it unique within its industry?

Our commitment to using high-quality ingredients, primarily. The breadth of our menu and the varied flavor profiles and tastes that can be found among our options are totally unique. Through the years, we’ve built this trust with our customers that has allowed us to be creative with different flavors and they’re always willing to try them—and find that creativity delicious.

And as a result of the trust we’ve been able to establish, our customer culture is strong. California Tortilla’s motto is to never lose a customer and every decision we make is rooted in that customer-centric filter.

Why is the brand a good investment?

Cal Tort is a great investment for a lot of reasons, but the primary two are great unit-level economics and the availability of prime territories. Our menu, service system and buildout are designed to be profitable, and our franchisees benefit greatly from that. Since we’ve elected to grow concentrically from our Washington, D.C.-area base, much of the U.S. is still available for development. We’re an emerging brand, so prime markets across the country are ripe with opportunity, which makes for a great potential investment with plenty of room to grow. 

What plans does California Tortilla have in the coming years?

Currently, we’re working on two projects that I’m particularly excited about. The first is a total upgrade of our current mobile app. Our current app has a loyalty feature and online ordering capabilities, but since we’re seeing an influx of sales coming from the platform, we’re investing in improving its functionality and capabilities to better meet the needs of both our customers and our franchisees.

The second, larger-scale upgrade we’re making to our franchise system involves our service structure. In our current state, customers order and pay first before receiving their food. With the implementation of our new process, we’re switching to a ‘pay last’ model. We’ve been studying the fast-casual segment, and more and more brands have adopted this method by the day. Doing so allows our customers to customize their order down the line and pay at the end. 

We’ve actually created a hybrid model; most ‘pay last’ concepts are ingredient-based, where food is added from trays, where we’ve incorporated curated menu items into this process. As customers go down the line, they can add or remove specific ingredients, resulting in an end product that is exactly what the guest wants. By reducing the friction in the transaction, we see this as a chance to increase our top line and appeal to the young consumer, above all, while simultaneously adding to our value proposition and giving us pricing power.

How do you support franchisees?

Our franchisees go through four weeks of comprehensive training at our training restaurant in Maryland. During the Grand Opening process, we deploy a specialized training team on-site for two weeks and upon joining the Cal Tort family, franchisees are assigned a dedicated Franchise Business Consultant who helps them navigate the issues that come with getting their new business off the ground. We guide franchisees through crafting a local store marketing plan and setting up a budget as well as processes that will set them up for profitable success.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me looks like a system full of happy franchisees. Generally, franchisees are happy when their unit is performing well, they enjoy their line of work and see an opportunity for growth. Happy franchisees also serve as great validators for future franchisees and a great source of growth for us, as a result. If we are keeping our franchisees happy, all sorts of good things will continue to happen.

MAKE IT TREND
MORE BRAND INFO
  • NAME

    California Tortilla

  • NO. OF UNITS CURRENTLY OPEN:

    40

  • start-up costs

    $402,400 – $697,000

  • FRANCHISE FEE:

    $40,000

  • California Tortilla

  • EXECUTIVE Q&A

Q&A With California Tortilla President and CEO Bob Phillips

California Tortilla’s president and CEO details why he was initially drawn to the fast-casual California-style Mexican franchise and what’s ahead for the brand.

What initially drew you to California Tortilla?

Initially, I was a customer. I loved the food, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the culture around California Tortilla. Being in the foodservice business already, I evaluated the brand at the time and saw amazing potential—particularly in the lines out the door. 

California Tortilla’s performance was strong, but as a Certified Public Accountant, knew that if I could create the proper systems to replicate what was happening at this one restaurant while controlling costs and labor, the upside was tremendous. 

What about California Tortilla makes it unique within its industry?

Our commitment to using high-quality ingredients, primarily. The breadth of our menu and the varied flavor profiles and tastes that can be found among our options are totally unique. Through the years, we’ve built this trust with our customers that has allowed us to be creative with different flavors and they’re always willing to try them—and find that creativity delicious.

And as a result of the trust we’ve been able to establish, our customer culture is strong. California Tortilla’s motto is to never lose a customer and every decision we make is rooted in that customer-centric filter.

Why is the brand a good investment?

Cal Tort is a great investment for a lot of reasons, but the primary two are great unit-level economics and the availability of prime territories. Our menu, service system and buildout are designed to be profitable, and our franchisees benefit greatly from that. Since we’ve elected to grow concentrically from our Washington, D.C.-area base, much of the U.S. is still available for development. We’re an emerging brand, so prime markets across the country are ripe with opportunity, which makes for a great potential investment with plenty of room to grow. 

What plans does California Tortilla have in the coming years?

Currently, we’re working on two projects that I’m particularly excited about. The first is a total upgrade of our current mobile app. Our current app has a loyalty feature and online ordering capabilities, but since we’re seeing an influx of sales coming from the platform, we’re investing in improving its functionality and capabilities to better meet the needs of both our customers and our franchisees.

The second, larger-scale upgrade we’re making to our franchise system involves our service structure. In our current state, customers order and pay first before receiving their food. With the implementation of our new process, we’re switching to a ‘pay last’ model. We’ve been studying the fast-casual segment, and more and more brands have adopted this method by the day. Doing so allows our customers to customize their order down the line and pay at the end. 

We’ve actually created a hybrid model; most ‘pay last’ concepts are ingredient-based, where food is added from trays, where we’ve incorporated curated menu items into this process. As customers go down the line, they can add or remove specific ingredients, resulting in an end product that is exactly what the guest wants. By reducing the friction in the transaction, we see this as a chance to increase our top line and appeal to the young consumer, above all, while simultaneously adding to our value proposition and giving us pricing power.

How do you support franchisees?

Our franchisees go through four weeks of comprehensive training at our training restaurant in Maryland. During the Grand Opening process, we deploy a specialized training team on-site for two weeks and upon joining the Cal Tort family, franchisees are assigned a dedicated Franchise Business Consultant who helps them navigate the issues that come with getting their new business off the ground. We guide franchisees through crafting a local store marketing plan and setting up a budget as well as processes that will set them up for profitable success.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me looks like a system full of happy franchisees. Generally, franchisees are happy when their unit is performing well, they enjoy their line of work and see an opportunity for growth. Happy franchisees also serve as great validators for future franchisees and a great source of growth for us, as a result. If we are keeping our franchisees happy, all sorts of good things will continue to happen.

MAKE IT TREND
MORE BRAND INFO
  • NAME

    California Tortilla

  • NO. OF UNITS CURRENTLY OPEN:

    40

  • start-up costs

    $402,400 – $697,000

  • FRANCHISE FEE:

    $40,000

  • California Tortilla

  • EXECUTIVE Q&A

Q&A With California Tortilla President and CEO Bob Phillips

California Tortilla’s president and CEO details why he was initially drawn to the fast-casual California-style Mexican franchise and what’s ahead for the brand.

What initially drew you to California Tortilla?

Initially, I was a customer. I loved the food, I loved the atmosphere and I loved the culture around California Tortilla. Being in the foodservice business already, I evaluated the brand at the time and saw amazing potential—particularly in the lines out the door. 

California Tortilla’s performance was strong, but as a Certified Public Accountant, knew that if I could create the proper systems to replicate what was happening at this one restaurant while controlling costs and labor, the upside was tremendous. 

What about California Tortilla makes it unique within its industry?

Our commitment to using high-quality ingredients, primarily. The breadth of our menu and the varied flavor profiles and tastes that can be found among our options are totally unique. Through the years, we’ve built this trust with our customers that has allowed us to be creative with different flavors and they’re always willing to try them—and find that creativity delicious.

And as a result of the trust we’ve been able to establish, our customer culture is strong. California Tortilla’s motto is to never lose a customer and every decision we make is rooted in that customer-centric filter.

Why is the brand a good investment?

Cal Tort is a great investment for a lot of reasons, but the primary two are great unit-level economics and the availability of prime territories. Our menu, service system and buildout are designed to be profitable, and our franchisees benefit greatly from that. Since we’ve elected to grow concentrically from our Washington, D.C.-area base, much of the U.S. is still available for development. We’re an emerging brand, so prime markets across the country are ripe with opportunity, which makes for a great potential investment with plenty of room to grow. 

What plans does California Tortilla have in the coming years?

Currently, we’re working on two projects that I’m particularly excited about. The first is a total upgrade of our current mobile app. Our current app has a loyalty feature and online ordering capabilities, but since we’re seeing an influx of sales coming from the platform, we’re investing in improving its functionality and capabilities to better meet the needs of both our customers and our franchisees.

The second, larger-scale upgrade we’re making to our franchise system involves our service structure. In our current state, customers order and pay first before receiving their food. With the implementation of our new process, we’re switching to a ‘pay last’ model. We’ve been studying the fast-casual segment, and more and more brands have adopted this method by the day. Doing so allows our customers to customize their order down the line and pay at the end. 

We’ve actually created a hybrid model; most ‘pay last’ concepts are ingredient-based, where food is added from trays, where we’ve incorporated curated menu items into this process. As customers go down the line, they can add or remove specific ingredients, resulting in an end product that is exactly what the guest wants. By reducing the friction in the transaction, we see this as a chance to increase our top line and appeal to the young consumer, above all, while simultaneously adding to our value proposition and giving us pricing power.

How do you support franchisees?

Our franchisees go through four weeks of comprehensive training at our training restaurant in Maryland. During the Grand Opening process, we deploy a specialized training team on-site for two weeks and upon joining the Cal Tort family, franchisees are assigned a dedicated Franchise Business Consultant who helps them navigate the issues that come with getting their new business off the ground. We guide franchisees through crafting a local store marketing plan and setting up a budget as well as processes that will set them up for profitable success.

What does success look like to you?

Success to me looks like a system full of happy franchisees. Generally, franchisees are happy when their unit is performing well, they enjoy their line of work and see an opportunity for growth. Happy franchisees also serve as great validators for future franchisees and a great source of growth for us, as a result. If we are keeping our franchisees happy, all sorts of good things will continue to happen.

MAKE IT TREND
MORE BRAND INFO
  • NAME

    California Tortilla

  • NO. OF UNITS CURRENTLY OPEN:

    40

  • start-up costs

    $402,400 – $697,000

  • FRANCHISE FEE:

    $40,000