California Tortilla courts customers with quirky events and a human touch online

The regional restaurant chain answers every comment and email it can while promoting fun in-store happenings via social media.

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For one day in late July, California Tortilla stores were full of sharks. People in shark hats, anyway.

The shark-hat promotion was one of many that have made the regional taco and burrito chain—which, incidentally, has no locations in California—known for its quirky, fun personality. That personality also comes through in California Tortilla’s social media presences and its newsletter, Taco Talk, which boasts more than 120,000 subscribers.

“We want everything to sound real, and not like marketing speak,” says Stacey Kane, the chain’s marketing director. “Like you’re talking to your buddy.”

Customers feel a real camaraderie with the brand, she says, which may exist in part because Kane herself tries to answer every email and online comment she sees.

Answering everything

California Tortilla has locations in four states—Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia—and the District of Columbia, but its social media response team is a party of one.

“It’s just me,” says Kane. “It’s not a huge operation.”

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