Carrie Rengers

New Mexican-style restaurant franchise coming to Wichita with at least three sites

The California Tortilla franchise, or CalTort as it’s known, is coming to Wichita with several restaurants.

The first will be in the former Dickey’s Barbecue Pit space at the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich.

Mark Poling and his family are opening the business. He’s a former UPS driver who broke his elbow in 2016 and “a couple of surgeries later and a lot of rehab later” realized he couldn’t stay in that business.

“I have seen the success of restaurant franchises over and over and over again,” Poling says of living in Wichita.

He started looking into various franchises, studied a couple closely and selected CalTort, which is based in Maryland.

“That’s just kind of how the lingo developed out there,” he says of the shortened name. “It’s a lot easier to say.”

CalTort is a fast-casual restaurant that’s licensed in every state except for, ironically, California.

“We just really connected with them,” Poling says.

“Everything is fresh,” he says. “And you can feel good about eating it, too.”

The chain is “very particular” about using grass-fed beef, he says, and it has other high-quality ingredients for its Mexican-style dishes.

That includes items such as burritos, fajitas, street tacos, chef’s bowls, salads and nachos.

There is no alcohol on the menu.

The restaurants feature lots of light and bright colors.

The first Wichita CalTort will open in late September or early October.

Poling plans three of the restaurants in Wichita and has the option for five in the area.

“We’ll go out west more than likely after this one.”

He says the next one could be downtown or possibly around Wichita State University.

“It just depends where the opportunities are.”

Poling and his wife, Christine, named their business E&A Eats after their daughters Ela, 9, whom Poling calls their “CalTort youth ambassador” who is planning fun things for other children, and Adeline, 2.

Since starting the company, Poling says they now also have 11-week-old Mark Jr.

“The next corporate entity is going to have three letters in it.”

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