Correction: This story was updated on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 to correct Clint Wolford's last name. A previous version incorrectly spelled it.
Two Chattanooga brothers are opening up a new restaurant in Hixson with hopes of cashing in on the growing Tex-Mex segment.
Divyesh and Charlie Modi plan to open a California Tortilla eatery in a fairly new shopping center at Highway 153 and Hamill Road on Oct. 29.
"We wanted to have a home-run location. The Hixson area is growing. There's a lot of stuff going on," said Divyesh Modi, noting that the intersection is one of Chattanooga's busiest.
The new-to-Chattanooga restaurant concept will employ about 15 to 20 people at the center that already holds a First Watch and Mike's Tavern. California Tortilla serves burritos, bowls, street tacos, quesadillas and salads.
Divyesh Modi said he and his brother are originally from India but moved to Chattanooga in 1984. He said he's been involved in other businesses such as a hotel and liquor stores.
"Now we're reaching out to the restaurant industry," Modi said. "We wanted to do something different."
He said that as they looked at franchise opportunities, they came across California Tortilla, which is based in Maryland and will have 45 units by year's end.
"We did our due diligence, met with them, looked at the restaurant and fell in love with it," Modi said.
The brothers said the restaurant offers fresh food daily.
"One of the things I liked is it's not frozen food," said Divyesh Modi. "Everything is done at the restaurant on a daily basis. That way the consumer gets as fresh food as possible."
Aaron Goldberg, California Tortilla's director of franchise development, said the concept plans to open other units in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, and he'd welcome meeting interested franchisees on Oct. 29 at the Chattanooga eatery.
Only five of the 45 eateries are corporate owned, he said. The cost of opening a restaurant ranges from $400,000 to $700,000, Goldberg said.
He said the fast casual restaurant segment is the fastest growing in the industry and the Tex-Mex, or California-Mex, segment is experiencing the most rapid expansion.
Goldberg said that one of the difference makers at California Tortilla is that it offers an "international fusion" to its menu, such as selling a Korean barbecue burrito and other items.
"We fuse together elements of different types of cuisines," he said.
The 2-acre shopping center site, developed by Chattanooga developer Clint Wolford, fronts Highway 153 and wraps around a Mapco convenience store on the corner, having an added entrance and exit onto Hamill Road.
California Tortilla's opening next week will be the sixth new restaurant to open along Highway 153 in Hixson in the past 13 months following the previous additions of First Watch and the Texas Roadhouse last fall, Panda Express and Aubrey's last winter and Mike's Tavern this spring.
In addition, Bassam Issa, a Chattanooga developer, said this summer he's buying the old Firestone auto center outside Northgate Mall with plans to build a new Panera restaurant and two other eateries in a multimillion-dollar project.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.