Utter the words “Chicken Vera Cruz” to any B-town resident, and she’ll catch the reference to New World Tortilla. For 10 years, UVM alums Mike and Chris Hathaway have been rolling flavorful ingredients in flour and corn tortillas and selling them at reasonable prices. They began with a pushcart and moved into a narrow storefront on North Winooski Avenue. In recent years, they’ve tacked on an Essex Junction location and an ultra-popular station in UVM’s Davis Center.
But the brothers are about to change their business model. At the beginning of next year, they’ll close their North Winooski location. (The Essex shop’s fate hasn’t been decided.) The new base of operations will be a space at 696 Pine Street, which is currently being renovated into a 40- to 50-seat “upscale-cafeteria-style” eatery and tortilla bakery, says Chris.
The brothers make all of their wraps from scratch, in flavors such as herbes de Provence, curry and cayenne oregano. The rounds are so popular the Hathaways have decided to expand that side of the business with the goal of selling wraps wholesale to area markets and restaurants, as well as to their own customers.
“We’ve purchased a pretty substantial piece of tortilla-making equipment,” Chris dishes. The new machine — which he says cost “half as much as my house” — can turn out 900, 13-inch wraps per hour. “It’s gonna be a premium product . . . a fresh thing; it’s not gonna be day-old stuff,” Chris promises.
Expansion is great, but what about local eaters who just want a fix of Thai Chicken? Chris confirms that the “base menu will stay the same,” but adds that the brothers are concocting some new “upscale stuff based around the tortilla,” likening the concept to that of The Skinny Pancake. Tortillas with wood-ear mushrooms and Mornay sauce?
There’s another upside to the New World move: the empty North Winooski storefront is right next to Radio Bean. The funky club desperately needs more capacity. Just what the fire marshal ordered. . .