Fast casual restaurant brand Tortilla has hit back at a protest organised by residents in London’s Camden, who are trying to derail the opening of a new site in the area.
The campaign, called Save Camden Town from Tortilla Fast Food, started by local resident Marco Aponte, has raised objections to Tortilla’s attempts to open at 144 Camden High Street.
Tortilla hopes to open a small site selling hot burritos and tacos under an A1 licence, after its application for an A3 restaurant licence was rejected by Camden Council.
The campaign has seized upon this rejection, in which Camden Council stated that an A3 site would result in “harm to the character and function of the frontage and the town centre”.
It also claimed that residents within the building of 144 Camden High Street opposed the presence of Tortilla, and raised an objection that “Tortilla intends to prepare hot burritos and tacos, and sell alcohol, while operating under a retail licence (A1)”.
So far 37 people have signed a petition against the proposed site.
However Tortilla founder Brandon Stephens defended his company’s plans.
“We made an application for a change of use on a premises that we secured in Camden last year which was rejected by the council due to the technicality that the High Street already had less than 75% A1 usage,” he explained. “The ‘harming’ the character of Camden Town that they refer to is simply legalese for meaning they didn’t want to have any more A3 operations.”
He added that Tortilla was subsequently granted an alcohol licence and has obtained a Certificate of Lawful Use for the site. “Under the terms of the A1, we can’t have external extraction, must maintain a reduced number of covers, must have some degree of retail sales, etc. all of which are acceptable to both ourselves and Camden,” he said.
Stephens also pointed out that operating under an A1 licence was an established model throughout the UK, and that there were a number of burrito operators that operate under A1 planning in Camden including: El Mexicana, Poncho #8 (in the City), and Barburrito (Paddington station).
“The tenants make it out to sound like we’re operating illegally when in fact we’re operating 100% within the law, have been liaising with Camden for a considerable period of time, and have gone through all the requisite steps,” Stephens said.