California Tortilla

Franchise Q&A with Bob Phillips, Co-Founder & CEO of California Tortilla

How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?

In 2002, my business partner, Keith Goldman and I opened the California Tortilla in Potomac, Maryland. We were wildly successful, and quickly became a regular destination for thousands of people who craved imaginative, healthy, Cal Mex cuisine. We were fast, healthy, and we loved our customers. As the years passed, California Tortilla’s imaginative dishes, fresh ingredients and fun attitude have grown the concept from a small franchise to a recognized brand all along the east coast.

Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?

Prospective Franchise Owners should be excited because people love the food! The California Tortilla menu features items that offer a twist on traditional Mexican flavors. Our food is made in small batches throughout the day with the best ingredients we can source, and you’ll never find a freezer in any of our restaurants.

Also, Franchise Owners should be excited to know that when they sign an agreement with California Tortilla, they’ll be joining a proven system and a successful concept. We have over 14 years of operation and a strong corporate culture. We are passionate about this business and strongly believe in empowering our team and Franchise Owners.

What makes your industry attractive?

The fast casual industry is a $52-billion- a-year industry that is growing rapidly year over year, with Mexican being the highest producing segment!

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

We’re looking for both owner-operators and multi-unit owners. Our Franchise Owners must be detail oriented, have business acumen, and be passionate about building and leading a team. Previous restaurant experience is a plus, but is not required.

Our ideal candidate shares our vision for providing a best-in- class experience, products, and customer service. We want to partner with people who are hungry to succeed, grow into multiple locations and bring customers in their markets a quality product, unlike anything they have experienced before.

Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years? 

We are thrilled by our growth over the past 14 years, and will continue to partner with the right individuals to continue expanding nationwide.

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

The two biggest mistakes I’ve seen are being under-capitalized and not taking advantage of the training. Both potential mistakes are easily avoidable. We spend a lot of time in the selection process discussing these issues.

On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?

The average ramp-up time is 9-12 months, including 3-6 months to secure real estate.

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