Pollo Campero
October 31, 2003 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Long Wait for a Taste of Home: Guatemalan Fried Chicken Draws a Crowd. Pollo Campero's first US store in Los Angeles reached the unprecedented sales mark of $1 million in an astounding seven weeks, a daily average of $20.4 thousand. After a full weekend of operation in the Washington DC market, Pollo Campero broke this record by selling $65 thousand in two days, a daily average of $32.5 thousand. At the franchise in Herndon (Virginia), I have personally seen the line exit the store, cross the front of the building and circle around to the back (at 3pm). Is this fried chicken really that good?
posted by probablysteve (41 comments total)
New Business Does Well! Discuss!

Is fried chicken really worth a MetaFilter post?
posted by botono9 at 7:12 AM on October 31, 2003

This post needs to be coated in a secret blend of 11 kinds of ass-whupping and fried.
posted by stonerose at 7:14 AM on October 31, 2003

FWIW, the Pollo Campero is a big deal back in Central America. Often when I have to go to the airport to pick up my girlfriend or one of her family members, I'll see at least three or four people bringing a bag on the plane to someone back up in Dallas. This is likely the first example of a Central American company franchising or opening up in the States to target the emigrate market, which I think is fairly interesting, but I'm probably an anamoly in that since here on mefi.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:17 AM on October 31, 2003

Man, I'm really getting sick of these "does this really belong on MeFi?" questions. And, no, I won't MeTa it.

I for one thought it was an interesting post. Has anyone tasted this chicken?
posted by fletchmuy at 7:24 AM on October 31, 2003

When the lines die down, I will definitely try it. For what it's worth, non-franchise Guatemalan fried-chicken stores seem to be very popular in Northen VA.
posted by SealWyf at 7:27 AM on October 31, 2003

I've been waiting for Mrs. Suharti's Fried Chicken to open a franchise here in the states. (Mrs. Suharti = Col. Sanders of Indonesia)
posted by gimonca at 7:28 AM on October 31, 2003

[this tastes good]
posted by rushmc at 7:28 AM on October 31, 2003

I’ve seen the lines at the Falls Church store, and I’ve seen the outlet at the Guatemala City airport, too, and have been treated to the aroma in the TACA cabin, but I’ve never had the stuff.

There was a sign up at the airport Pollo Campero announcing that any store by that name in the US was a fake, but that was several years ago. There was, in fact, a store by that name in Falls Church, near the present site of the real PC. I’ve been to the fake one (now renamed) a few times – it’s just fried chicken. Of course, the real stuff may be better, but I think it’s more about a taste of home than anything else, like how I always get Bojangles when I go to my mom’s house in Charlotte, NC.

I'll go to the new store as soon as the lines die down and give a more informed report!
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:29 AM on October 31, 2003

Can anyone get the menu on the official site to work correctly? It seems like the flash isn't working correctly.
posted by emptybowl at 7:32 AM on October 31, 2003

There's a chicken place just off Lee Highway in Arlington called CRISP & JUICY ... I highly recommend it.
posted by crunchland at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2003

There's more info about the chicken on the DC Chowhounds board.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:35 AM on October 31, 2003

Crunch, I prefer Edy's, near the Falls Church Pollo Campero. Other areas have the same thing, of course (marinated chicken, rotisserie grilled over charcoal), but, from what I understand, the "Peruvian-style" moniker is a local invention. Has anyone outside the DC/NOVA area seen this label?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2003

There's a Pollo Campero in Bailey's Crossroads (also NoVa) but I guess it's one of the "fakes." It's always jammed though so I tried it once. As Mr MoonPie said, it's just fried chicken.

There must be magic in the original though...Restaurants in Los Angeles and Houston reached $1 million in sales in two weeks.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:41 AM on October 31, 2003

Pollo Campero in Bailey's Crossroads = Pollo Campero in Falls Church. Same place. The fake one was in the little strip mall, next to Trader Joe's. It's still there, but with a different name. That's the one I went to. The new place is out on the main road, with the loooong lines at all hours. Haven't been there yet.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:50 AM on October 31, 2003

That Trader Joe's - don't you hate that cashier with the henna job that works Thursdays and Sundays? She always has a piece of spinach or something in her teeth.

posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:56 AM on October 31, 2003

Restaurants in Los Angeles and Houston reached $1 million in sales in two weeks.

I had to drive by the Houston location a few times a week back when it opened and I never saw a line of cars less than three blocks long waiting for the drive through. At lunchtime the walk-in crowd got almost as big.

Not a big shock, though. I lived overseas when I was growing up in a community made up mostly of American ex-pats. There were no fast food restaurants of any kind when we first got there and later on whenever one did open it invariably did a lot of business. It's fast food as comfort food, basically.
posted by Cyrano at 7:58 AM on October 31, 2003

Not to worry, Flanders - I know just who you mean; that damn woman is everywhere.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:59 AM on October 31, 2003

Cyrano, do you mean like this?
posted by i blame your mother at 8:13 AM on October 31, 2003

Many many years ago there used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Guatemala City... it got run out of business by Pollo Campero. Really, KFC is just a dim shade of what they used to be -- it all tastes stale to me now. I have eaten Pollo Campero many times (though it's been 17 years or so since I tasted it last).

Next time I'm in L.A. I'll have to look it up.
posted by Fley Mingmasc at 8:23 AM on October 31, 2003

There is a Church's Chicken and a Mrs. Winner's Chicken and Biscuits blocks from my house and while I normally avoid deep-fried fast food poultry like the plague, sometimes the smell is just so damn good, I almost float down the street and through the door on it's gently wafting greasniness against my will.

So if they opened a Pollo Campero here I'd probably try it out. I know there's a fairly solid Guatemalan population here (most of the folks here the white people refer to as Mexicans are actually Guatemalans) so it might happen one day.
posted by jennyb at 8:40 AM on October 31, 2003

I'm very disturbed by Pollito, their cannibalistic chicken mascot. He seems to be all too happy to serve up a plate of his chicken brethren, fried and peppered.
posted by 4easypayments at 8:54 AM on October 31, 2003

I need a Maalox
posted by matteo at 9:02 AM on October 31, 2003

Not everyone can have the moral courage of a Kermit the Frog, 4easypayments.
posted by Cyrano at 9:08 AM on October 31, 2003

Ohoh I wonder how long till we seed a line of Peta Picketers.
posted by elpapacito at 9:31 AM on October 31, 2003

Nifty, I had never heard of this.
posted by lobakgo at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2003

Small world, MrMoonPie! I've been to that Trader Joe's - and I live in th UK. Didn't eat the chicken though.
posted by tabbycat at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2003

The new Krispy Kreme?
posted by rushmc at 9:48 AM on October 31, 2003

Yah, Pollo Campero (Which means "Country Chicken" BTW) has been around Central America for a while. When I lived in El Salvador in 1995, it was around. I probably ate there once or twice but don't think there's anything special about it, the fact that it opened in LA means there are probably a lot of Central Americans lining up to get a taste of home.

For what it's worth, Mister Donut (which is all but defunct in the US) is also really big in Central America, which makes sense (?), because it's now a Phillipine run business.
posted by jeremias at 10:24 AM on October 31, 2003

Looking at their site, it seems to be aimed mostly at SA immigrants. Will us gringos be welcomed into this place?
posted by dr_dank at 10:40 AM on October 31, 2003

"The new Krispy Kreme?"

I need a Mylanta
posted by matteo at 10:40 AM on October 31, 2003

Will someone please let me know when the open in London?
posted by donfactor at 11:00 AM on October 31, 2003

I'm very disturbed by Pollito, their cannibalistic chicken mascot. He seems to be all too happy to serve up a plate of his chicken brethren, fried and peppered.

My sentiments exactly. They had a guy in a Pollito suit advertising the grand opening and handing out coupons etc. at the El Salvador vs. DC United exhibition game a month or so ago. My coworker's 3 year old kept pointing and saying "pato" I think that may be the secret. Pollito is really a patito and has something against chickens. The ugly duckling turns sociopathic due to the treatment he got as a chick.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:28 AM on October 31, 2003

there's really nothing special about it really. the spicing is good and the mayonnaise sauce is tasty, but I think it's just popular because it's not the other fast food places.
posted by destro at 11:40 AM on October 31, 2003

Mr. Donut is also HUGE in Japan. I mean, EVERYWHERE. Kinda weird really. My wife had never had a sugary donut until she came to the US since Mr. Donut mostly serves those cake donut things I refuse to consume.

I was hoping for some Yoshinoyas to open in the US. I found one in NYC but they don't serve the natto gohan breakfast like in Japan. What a gyp!
posted by Dantien at 11:48 AM on October 31, 2003

I just had had a fried chicken dinner - the result of seriously searching the web for the secret of Popeye's fried chicken. It almost worked. I like Church's as well, but haven't been able to duplicate it at home. And I cook a lot of chicken.

I have friends bring me corned beef from Katz's deli in NY when they come to Europe, so I understand the emigrant magnetism of a taste of home. Injected marinade sounds... desirable...

Fried chicken postings are better than flash.
posted by zaelic at 12:06 PM on October 31, 2003

There's a restaurant out my way that is locally famous for something they called berched chicken, which does sound like it could be somewhat tasty. I keep saying that someday I'll check it out, but the old-timers seem to think it lost a little of its mystique when they added other items to the menu - for 60 years, you had your choice of berched chicken, or berched chicken. Oh, or shrimp, but only on Fridays.
posted by yhbc at 12:44 PM on October 31, 2003

berched chicken is essentially boiled chicken that is then grilled. All the wonderful nutrients in the chicken ends up in the water ie. chicken stock. Good chicken stock can be sold for $6 a quart or more to restaurants who use it make lively sauces and soups.
posted by stbalbach at 2:06 PM on October 31, 2003

The food is great, but the problem is the side effects of the open-fire cooking they've tried here in So Cal.
posted by namespan at 9:41 PM on October 31, 2003

I used to live two miles from Bailey's Crossroads, about seven years ago, and now I live in L.A., clearly I was destined to eat at this place. Thanks for the post, I might not have heard of this otherwise! The people up top crying about the validity or value of this post would do well to read the comments and see how many people were happy about it.
posted by jonson at 9:44 PM on October 31, 2003

Great link, probablysteve. The influx of foreign fast food franchises into the U.S. is a nice bit of cultural karma. Now we can see a bit of how the slow-food people feel about the McDonald's Le Havre.

I love food mascots who encourage you to eat their brethren. To quote Clucky, "Bein' dead never tasted so god-nobbity good!"
posted by rcade at 6:31 AM on November 1, 2003

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