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Pollo Campero bringing Central American flavor to North Alabama

HUNTSVILLE – Blas Escarcega cuts to the chase as vice president of franchise development at Pollo Campero, which is preparing to open a restaurant in the Rocket City. He represents a unique version of a popular Southern dish –  fried and grilled chicken – albeit from way south. As in Guatemala.


“Don’t worry,” he said, “I love Auburn and Alabama both equally.’’


And the chicken?


“Pollo Campero is something that has definitely resonated with the Central American population and now resonates with a lot of the U.S. population,’’ he told 256 Today via phone from the company’s Texas headquarters. “It’s really a global iconic brand. In Central America, Guatemala and El Salvador have over 300 Pollo Camperos. And then when you combine that with the 100 we have here in the US, we’re up to over 400 in the pipeline and we have about another 20 that we’re gonna build this year.”

 

Pollo Campero, which plans 12 locations in Alabama starting with Huntsville and Birmingham, has been a success since its 1971 beginnings in Guatemala.

(Pollo Campero/Facebook)

The brand migrated north, and over ensuing decades built what it calls a “cult-like following with the chain’s bright yellow bags and distinct aroma a staple on flights to the U.S. from Guatemala and El Salvador.”

The restaurant’s parent company, 103-year-old Corporación Multi-Inversiones, has pledged to invest $190 million over the next few years for expansion. Pollo Campero has locations in Tennessee and Georgia.


“We already have a strong presence in Nashville, in Atlanta, and we’ve noticed that people from Alabama will actually drive to our Nashville (area) locations and Atlanta locations to buy our product,” Escarcega said. “There are people who are familiar with the brand who live in Huntsville and Decatur. I love the area. I love the big rocket there that you guys have, the space (industry).”

Escarcega said Huntsville’s rocket displays, including the impressive Saturn V at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, got his attention during a visit.

(Pollo Campero/Facebook)

“I said I gotta be careful while I’m down here because they might shoot it at me if I don’t behave,” he said. “But anyway, great locations. Fried chicken consumption is highest in the Southeast. Our fried chicken is very unique in the sense that it has bold flavors. It’s very flavorful, it’s tender, crunchy and juicy.

“We also know that Alabama’s economy is strong, it has a sizable automobile manufacturing presence, and it has continued job growth. There’s more industries moving into the state. It’s very business friendly and that’s what we’re looking for. They’ve been very open and welcoming to us, so we couldn’t be happier.”

 

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