EXCLUSIVE: Tortilla’s compact kitchen packs enough punch for expansion

Mexican burrito chain Tortilla could be persuaded to roll out more smaller-format sites if a new branch in Putney proves successful.

The site on Putney high street is its smallest yet, at only 700 square feet, and will give the company a valuable insight to whether a compact version of its restaurant model has long-term potential, particularly in London.

In Putney there is less emphasis on dining space and more on queuing as the demographics of the area mean customers are likely to grab-and-go and order delivery rather than eat in.

Head of food, Martyn Clover, believes that being able to convert its set-up to a smaller format will give the brand added flexibility as it looks to expand.

“Sites in London are at a premium as everyone knows and I think what this will hopefully prove to us is that it works in a site like this,” he explained. “Our kitchen set-up and the fact that we produce all our own food at the CPU as well as fresh in-store means we are capable of operating in places that maybe not all of our competitors can.”

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Tortilla’s Putney store features more space for queuing and serving to meet grab-and-go demand.

Clover says that, contrary to what you might expect, the kitchen in the Putney store did not require a radical redesign despite being significantly smaller than what it is used to.

“Putney is a great example of a kitchen that is really small, but actually when you analyse it you don’t need any additional space because if you did it would just create more walking. The number of steps is something we do consider in our designs. There is a fairly standard distance between the front of the line and the back of the line because we don’t want the guys having to take that extra step. When you add that up over the course of a day it makes quite a big difference.”

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