How a taco chain reaches 80,000 fans every month, for free

caltortlogoCalifornia Tortilla — a small, 37-unit Mexican restaurant chain — reaches 80,000 fans through a simple newsletter published about once a month (and actually, the latest edition suggests subscriber numbers are closer to 100,000). The publication is funny, easy to share, and everyone who signs up gets a free taco.

Through the newsletter, Cal Tort (as they call themselves) is able to share news, events, and special promotions with fans that they’d otherwise have to pay to do through expensive advertising. Here’s an excerpt from their June issue:


Because I know that in this age of Twitter everyone only has time to read the briefest of snippets, I thought it might take some of the pressure off if I made this month’s Taco Talk list all about numbers instead of words. So with that in mind, here’s…
Cal Tort By the Numbers

4397: Number of people who’ve told me that they were there on the opening day of the Bethesda California Tortilla in 1995.

6: Number of customers we actually had that day.

3.2 million: Number of quesadillas we’ve made since 1995.

3.2 million: Number of people who’ve asked the line cooks if their quesadilla is done yet.

22oz: The average size of a regular burrito.

19oz: The average size of most grandmothers.

150,000: The approximate number of Pop Tarts we’ve given away since 1995.

0: The approximate number of monkeys we’ve given away since 1995.

100,000: Number of people who subscribe to Taco Talk.

99,999: Number of people who did it for the free taco and now are just too lazy to opt out. (Do you like how I’m calling you lazy? No wonder you want to opt out.)

Next month’s list will be made entirely of little pictures of ice cream cones.


That’s right! Because we want to show off our brand new crayon-less kids’ packs (that I know those of you without children have been dying to see), on Wednesday, June 10th kids eat FREE at every California Tortilla in the land. All you have to do is purchase one adult entrée for each free kid’s meal.

The Lesson: Despite all the fancy tools out there, a simple email newsletter remains one of the best ways to consistently communicate with your fans. You can start one tomorrow, for free.

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