WCHS beloved California Tortilla is back up and running


Photo by Justin Greenzaid

WCHS seniors Ezekiel Avit and Isaiah Mbeng examine the new California Tortilla menu on April 14, shortly after the reopening.

By Justin Greenzaid, Sports Editor

When WCHS students think of favorite local restaurants, one that almost always comes to mind is California Tortilla. The backbone of the Cabin John Shopping Center, California Tortilla serves fast casual Mexican cuisine. Cal Tort, as many students refer to it, offers burritos, salads and much more but is best known for their quesadillas.

Cal Tort is a very iconic restaurant to the WCHS community, but when the news spread that the restaurant would be temporarily closed for renovations many were startled.

“When I first heard they would be closing for a little while I was pretty sad. I love to eat at Cal Tort so not having one of my go to restaurants for a few weeks was a bit tough. I was super excited when they reopened and I got to see all the new changes that I had been waiting for,” WCHS senior Jamie Calhoun said.

So what exactly did Cal Tort do in about a month’s work? A lot. The entire interior of the store is completely renovated and there is an entirely new food service system. For starters, the interior has been completely redesigned to look much more modern with white wood and marble. Also, the menu is now displayed on LED TVs which really brightens up the environment.

“Although the new Cal Tort is very nice, I do sort of miss the old genuine Cal Tort. I feel like it used to have more tradition associated with it rather than this new moderness that can be installed anywhere. The memories and feelings associated with the old Cal Tort will definitely be missed,” WCHS senior Taylor Branch said.

In addition to the aesthetic change, Cal Tort also changed the way the food is served. Now, rather than placing an order and waiting to be served at a table, customers go through a line and tell the employees exactly what they would like and watch them make the meal in front of them. The new ordering system follows those of Chipotle and Cava, which seems to be taking over the modern way of fast food dining.

The new system makes the entire process a lot faster since they create your order right away right in front of you however it is a bit more complicated. This system requires more work from the customer as they have to direct the employee step by step with what they want in their order. With that being said, it adds more customization and can definitely be seen as helpful to the picky eaters out there.

“Overall I’m very happy with the changes that Cal Tort made. It’s a very nice dining experience there and I feel like the facelift was necessary. Ordering food now is a lot easier and I get my food right away which is super convenient,” WCHS senior Alexa Resnick said.

California Tortilla also added a new outdoor seating arrangement. There are brand new tables and benches which are very eloquent. They also installed heaters into the ceiling so that even on chilly nights, outdoor dining can still be comfortable. The new dining space is surrounded by a concrete wall that is about two feet in height which adds a new level of privacy however the gray concrete slab is not the prettiest to one’s eyes.

Another minor change to Cal Tort is that they got rid of their two electronic fountain drink machines and now only have one, much less modern, fountain drink machine with fewer options than before. They did however add their own drink combinations, once again following that of Chipotle and Cava, where customers can now fill their cups up with homemade lemonades and teas.

“One thing that is definitely a downgrade is the new fountain drink machine. I don’t know why they would take out their two very nice ones, especially if their goal was to modernize the place. The options are much more limited now but some of their home made drinks are pretty good and sort of make up for it,” Branch said.

With all the pros and cons of Cal Tort’s revamp, one thing that they made sure not to mess up was their distinguished “Wall of Flame”. The iconic wall has new shelving, signage and tons of different types of hot sauces. A staple of the franchise and a fan favorite, Cal Tort was smart to include their spectacular Wall of Flame in their renovation.

“Overall I would say I am pleased with Cal Tort’s new renovations. It makes the dining experience feel a lot fresher and cleaner and although it feels a bit less genuine it does feel much more eloquent,” Calhoun said.