California Tortilla, the funky Mexican eatery that opened its first location on Cordell Avenue in Bethesda 17 years ago, is moving diagonally across the street into the former Cesco restaurant (which is itself moving to the former McCormick and Schmick’s space at 7401 Woodmont Avenue).
Pam Felix, who started the chain with partner Alan Cohen—and which now numbers 35 locations—said the new space will be 50 percent bigger than the old, allowing more seating.
The restaurant, slated to open in about six months, will have later hours, serve beer and have free WiFi. In the meantime, the current location at 4862 Cordell Avenue will continue to operate.
Future California Tortilla restaurants, including the bigger Bethesda location, “will have an all new look,” Felix said, adding that existing stores will gradually be renovated.
The bright décor colors will be toned down a little, and there will be open kitchens so customers can see dishes being prepared.
“The emphasis will be on the food and freshness,” she said. “It’s just a more updated look.”
Meanwhile, the popular Olazzo restaurant at 7921 Norfolk Ave., is tearing the wall down between the restaurant and the adjacent space, a former art and frame shop.
The addition will double the diminutive eatery’s square footage—from 1,000 to 2,000, according to co-owner Roberto Pietrobono. The new room will add 35 seats (with 10 more outside), and will sport a 20-foot bar.
Pietrobono said the bar area will give patrons a place to have a drink while they wait to be seated—so that they don’t have to go across the street to Rock Bottom Brewery.
“That was our waiting area,” says Pietrobono, who added that Olazzo would call patrons on their cell phones when their table at the Italian restaurant was ready.
Pietrobono is hoping to complete the addition by February.