|Founded||1988 (original) (Miami, Florida)|
|Founder||Larry & Stuart Harris|
|Headquarters||Miami-Dade County, Florida|
Number of locations
|141 (FL) (2019)|
|Richard Stockinger (CEO) Danny Meisenheimer (President & COO)|
|Products||Grilled chicken, black beans, yellow rice, yuca and other Caribbean-style dishes.|
Number of employees
|5,600 (2017) |
|Parent||Fiesta Restaurant Group|
Pollo Tropical (literally "Tropical Chicken" in English) is a Miami, Florida-based restaurant chain and franchise specializing in the cuisine of the Caribbean. Founded in 1988, the chain has its headquarters in Doral, Miami-Dade County, Florida. It is best known for marinated and grilled chicken and various sides including black beans and rice, corn casserole and more.
Pollo Tropical was founded in 1988 by two brothers from Miami, Larry and Stuart Harris. The chicken recipe was the result of Larry's studying cookbooks on Latin American cuisine and conducting experiments on his backyard grill to perfect the marinade. From the outset, the restaurant's strategy was to grill the marinated chicken in the customers' view. There were no prepackaged, precooked menu items and no microwave ovens. By 1993, the company had eight stores and went public. It opened 19 locations in one year including those in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa. Most of the new locations closed within a year after opening. In 1998, Pollo Tropical was sold to Carrols Restaurant Group, which was and is Burger King's largest United States franchisee. After a period of rapid expansion, there were sixty-nine company-owned locations and numerous franchisees in the Latin American and Caribbean regions.
Pollo Tropical is now a subsidiary of Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., which was spun-off from Carrols Restaurant Group in 2012. Fiesta owns, operates and franchises the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana restaurant brands. Its headquarters have been located in the Doral area of Miami since 2017. The company currently owns and operates more than 140 locations throughout Florida and Georgia, plus five licensed restaurants on college campuses and 32 franchised locations throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Puerto Rico.
In addition to its fire-grilled chicken, the restaurant provides other regional foods such as Mojo Roast Pork, rice, beans, corn casserole and plantains. In 2018 the company began offering fried chicken in addition to their traditional fire-grilled recipe.
Challenges in the United States
After a decline in sales, Fiesta began closing its Texas restaurants, including Pollo Tropical locations in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, in the second quarter of 2017. The Texas restaurants were shuttered as part of closings of 30 stores, including locations in Georgia and Tennessee. This was part of a trend announced earlier in 2017, as the company moved to slow development, having grown "too far, too fast." Instead of trying to open 30 new stores, the company planned to open 8 to 10, all in Florida, which is its core market. While its grilled chicken and other offerings are seen as healthy alternatives to fried chicken, hamburgers and french fries, the style and taste does not immediately draw customers outside Florida, and so requires some explanation to lure new customers in other markets.
- "Can Pollo Tropical get its mojo back? Chicken chain fights to fly high again", Miami Herald, 16 January 2017, retrieved 31 October 2017
- Mandy Baca (2013). The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs and Empanadas. Arcadia Publishing. p. 104. ISBN 9781614239291. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- Bloomberg News (6 June 1998), "COMPANY NEWS; LARGEST BURGER KING FRANCHISEE TO BUY POLLO TROPICAL", New York Times, New York, New York, retrieved 6 November 2017
- Form 10-K: Fiesta Restaurant Group (PDF). 2016. p. 1. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- John Brown (2014). Dining Roulette: The Truth about Restaurants from the Inside Out. Wheatmark, Inc. p. 118. ISBN 9781627871877. Retrieved 31 October 2017.
- "Pollo Tropical", USF Dining Services, retrieved 31 October 2017
- Gwendolyn Knapp (25 April 2017), "Pollo Tropical Closes Numerous Texas Locations", Houston Press, Houston, Texas, retrieved 31 October 2017
- Nancy De Gennaro (26 April 2017), "Pollo Tropical closed all Tennessee locations Monday", Tennessean, retrieved 31 October 2017
- Ron Ruggless (28 February 2017), "Fiesta to Slow Pollo Tropical Development", Nation's Restaurant News, retrieved 31 October 2017
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