By Juan Tornoe
While visiting a client in Houston a couple days ago, I had only one thing on my mind: “There’s Pollo Campero in town”.
Right after taking care of business, I headed straight to the promise land. Actually, I temporarily hijacked one of my client’s PC’s to find directions to the nearest Campero, ending up at the one on Bellaire Blvd., near a TACA office and an Adoc shoe store, as well as several other businesses that screamed Latin America… I was “home” and it felt right.
When I parked outside, I truly felt like a 5-year old kid just about to enter Disney World for the first time. I was in true amazement by watching how Pollo Campero has perfected their franchise.
You really have to come from one of the Latin American countries where Campero is a household name to fully appreciate it. I’m lucky to be from Guatemala, where the company started.
Even though I had been doing a good job at being a vegetarian for more than a couple of years, the “Tierno! Jugoso! y Crujiente!” (Tender! Juicy! Crunchy!) brought out my primal carnivore instincts… I just had to have it.
The restaurant’s infrastructure was as inviting as I remembered it… Could perfectly picture a birthday party going on at the children's area, with piñata and all.
After walking through the front door, I was greeted by a, “Buenas noches, le puedo tomar su orden?” by the cashier. Yes, they immediately address you in Spanish. Awesome.
I instantly called my wife and, as if just having won the lottery, said, “You have no idea where I am… at Pollo Campero and I’m bringing some home!” It must have been hysterical watching me be all exited about being in a fast food joint.
The menu blew my mind. Not only did it had everything that I longed for from the Guatemalan Pollo Camperos, it also included ALL the regional favorite side orders from El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Ecuador. They are so insightful as to offer different fried chicken combinations with or without dark meat; I’ve noticed that generally the white meat is more enticing for Americans, while the darker one is more appreciated by Hispanics.
The icing on the cake was the wristbands they where selling at the cash register, all read “Pollo Campero” on one side and a name of one of the countries where they have restaurants on the other. Took two from Guatemala back home to my kids.
Pollo Campero most certainly hits the bull’s eye while catering to the Hispanic Community; there’s a lot to learn from them.
Go, experience the restaurant, try the chicken, you’ll see what I mean… Buen provecho.
Note: Originally Published in November 2005 on Hispanic Trending