Tortilla still sees “plenty of opportunities” in the UK, and is on the lookout for sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow, CEO Richard Morris tells MCA.

The fast casual Mexican cuisine specialist is looking to launch in European markets through franchising or strategic acquisitions, but remains committed to building its UK presence further.

“There’s still plenty of ground to go in the UK,” Morris says. “There are plenty of locations in the middle of the UK we haven’t gone to yet.

“London has been very resilient and will always be a primarily location for us.”

The brand is opening eight UK sites this year and is committed to a strong pipeline next year, “well ahead of its IPO schedule.” Its launch in Northern Ireland has been well received.

“When we open in London, the site hits maturity almost immediately,” Morris adds. “Our brand is extremely well known in London now.

“We’re very keen to get something over the line in Europe.”

Tortilla Sunset Tacos

Tortilla is doing “a lot of digging” and building relations with potential franchise partners, and has received a lot of interest over the past several months, according to Morris.

It will likely make an announcement by early next year, with France, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands remaining as target markets.

“These are all relatively educated markets in the world of Mexican food. We’re also looking at Eastern Europe…Poland is a very buoyant economy at the moment.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations, we just want to make sure our first step into Europe is a successful one.”

The brand’s strength continues to lie in its flexibility and ability to trade well in a variety of locations, from university towns, tourist spots, office spaces, travel hubs, and shopping centres.

“The perfect location is where we have all, or at least two of those demographics,” Morris explains. “There’s no doubt shopping centres and travel hubs have boomed since Covid.

“High streets are a bit more challenging…there’s been less foot traffic but it’s starting to come back.”

Tortilla Sunsets Feast

Tortilla’s increased focus on evening trade has strong potential to drive the top line, with the Sunsets ‘dinner for a tenner’ menu offering a main, side, and drink for £10 along with £2.50 happy hour cocktails.

“We looked at all areas of the business from a cost perspective. We’ve got some upsides coming up in the last quarter of the year.

“Then we thought about how to drive the top line further…we’re giving people a reason to come to us in the evening.

“We don’t sell a lot of alcohol, it’s not going to cost us a lot of money, but we’ll drive profitability through food sales. This was launched during freshers week and starting to gain momentum with our student customers…but it’s not a student-led promo, it’s for everybody.”

While Tortilla is currently focused on evening trade, it will revisit its breakfast offer next year, according to Morris. The brand currently offers breakfast in travel hubs and its Canary Wharf site.

“Everybody strives for all day trade,” he says. “We’ve done breakfast in the past, but pre-Covid. There’s an opportunity for us to revisit that.”

The business has also upped its digital strategy with the launch of its first kiosk-only store. This has allowed it to break hourly sales records after only four weeks.

The model will be rolled out to “a few other sites” based on location and capacity for extra food production lines.

“There are certainly parts of London where it’s all about speed…it helps through the high volume lunch period. Other areas, we want it to be more relaxed.

“The environment is not as good as I would like as a restaurateur. Customers enjoy picking and choosing what they want…this is all about speed, a sanitised way of serving people.”