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A new way to order at California Tortilla: customize it

Popular local fast-casual restaurant chain California Tortilla is changing the way diners order, and its location in Dumfries, Virginia, is the first to have it.

The California Tortilla in Dumfries, Virginia, will offer a more customized ordering experience. (Courtesy Briane Barbakoff/California Tortilla)

Popular local fast-casual restaurant chain California Tortilla is changing the way diners order, and its location in Dumfries, Virginia, is the first to update its system.

The Dumfries location, at the Shoppes of Quantico Center at 3934 Fettler Park Drive, reopened Monday after a remodel that replaced its long-used counter where customers ordered off a menu board. Customers now pass through a food preparation line to custom-create their meals by communicating with employees, similar to individual customization at other fast-casual chains such as Cava and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

That means mixing-and-matching a wide range of sauces and toppings for bowls and burritos. California Tortilla will be rolling out the new model at all 38 of its stores eventually.

The Rockville, Maryland-based company has 22 locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as others in Kansas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

“The Dumfries re-opening is made even more special with the first retro-fit of our new service model, which we named ACE, for Accuracy, Customization and Engagement. The model allows our guests to really experience our full array of flavor profiles,” said Robert Phillips, president of California Tortilla.

One reason for the shift is fast-casual customer preference, which has changed over time to include more personal choices.

The new model also picks up some labor cost efficiencies, requiring fewer people to operate, the company said.

The Dumfries location is owned by franchisee Charlie Patel, who owns a total of 11 California Tortilla locations. As part of its re-opening, the Dumfries location is featuring giveaways, entertainment and $5 all-day bowls and burritos.

California Tortilla, known by its fans as “Cal Tort,” opened its first location in Bethesda in 1995. Its accolades include making the Readers Choice lists in both the Washingtonian and the Washington City Paper.

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