On August 4th California Tortilla will be 20 years old! Can you believe it? You know who else has a birthday on August 4th? President Obama. That’s right — we opened on August 4th and the leader of the free world’s birthday is August 4th. Coincidence? (Yes. That’s what a coincidence is.)

We’ve got a week full of great promotions and we hope that you’ll celebrate with us. Just look at all the hoopla we’ve got going on:

  • Monday, August 3rd: Double points Day — all customers receive double Burrito Elito points!
  • Tuesday, August 4th: every customer will get a scratch-off card and everyone’s a winner. (Prizes are valid from Aug.8-15th)
  • Wednesday, August 5th: Free chips and queso (with purchase) when you say the secret password “HAPPY ANNIBIRTHERY” (Fun fact: the first secret password was spatula.)
  • Thursday, August 6th: Throwback pricing. We’re offering all of our Chef-Inspired Burritos for the same price they were back in 1995!
  • Friday, August 7th: Free cupcake with purchase. Yum.

We hope you can celebrate with us — it’s going to be a great time.


Because you are all dying to know, I thought I would give you a highlight from each of the past 20 years. Ready?

  • 1995: The first California Tortilla opens in Bethesda, MD. The people of Bethesda can’t wait to find out what a burrito is.
  • 1996: We have our first Pop Tart Day. Kellogg’s kindly donates all 6 Pop Tarts.
  • 1997: Sales skyrocket when Tony Kornheiser eats one of our fajita platters on the air.
  • 1998: We get an e-mail address! Our first email is to Tony Kornheiser—asking him if he can eat more fajita platters on the air.
  • 1999: We add fish tacos to the menu. No one buys them so we take them off.
  • 2000: We’re told by a source inside the White House that we’re “the restaurant of choice for White House staffers.”
  • 2001: We host our first Doggy Yappy Hour on our patio. At one point 50% of the dogs have gotten sick. (We’re hoping to keep this from the White House staffers.)
  • 2002: We start franchising. Taco Talk must now be approved by company lawyers. Yikes.
  • 2003: I announce in Taco Talk that Buddy Ebsen from the Beverly Hillbilly’s has died. This takes the alive Buddy Ebsen by surprise. (Where were the company lawyers that day?)
  • 2004: We add coffee to the menu. Nobody buys it but our employees start working really fast.
  • 2005: We win the first of many awards for our fresh, flavorful and fabulous food. We’re disappointed that none of the awards come with cash prizes.
  • 2006: We have a promotion where you throw a ball into a hoop behind the cashier’s head. Shortly thereafter I stop being in charge of promotions.
  • 2007: We retire our mascot “Chippy” because everyone thinks he’s a piece of pizza.
  • 2008: We launch the Burrito Elito card. We give away millions of dollars in Burrito Bucks in a very short time. We did not see that coming.
  • 2009: We have a slogan contest. And although we don’t end up picking a winner (that’s time consuming!), our personal favorite is, “Cal Tort: Friendlier than grandma with less ass pinching.” We like it because this person seems to have such an interesting grandmother.
  • 2010: We add fish tacos to the menu and everyone buys them. (What happened in those 11 years, people?)
  • 2011: We debut our catering hotline 1(855) CAL-TROT. And then the following week we debut our non-typo catering hotline 1(855) CAL-TORT.
  • 2012: We roll out a brand new look that proves to be wildly popular with customers. At the same time, we remove my picture from all of the cups and chip bags, which seems to be equally popular with customers.
  • 2013: We open a California Tortilla in Qatar. The people of Qatar can’t wait to find out what Mexican food is.
  • 2014: We’re voted Best Mexican by Washington Magazine readers. Still no cash.
  • 2015: We’re voted Best Mexican yet again. We’ve given up on the cash.

Thanks to all of you for making it a wonderful 20 years!


A special shout out to Mills — he was our first employee and he’s been with us all 20 years. Thank you for sticking with us all these years, Mills. We couldn’t have done it without you!


What is your favorite Cal Tort memory from the last 20 years? We would love to hear them!