Pollo Campero taking cautious approach to expansion
A little more than a year after making its local debut, Pollo Campero — Latin America’s largest chicken restaurant chain known for its signature fried and grilled chicken and side dishes — is taking a careful approach to expanding in Puerto Rico, where it has plans to open 20 restaurants in a decade.
Christian Gándara, franchisee for the Puerto Rico market, confirmed that the company is already scouting for locations in Fajardo or Bayamón, where the next restaurant will likely open before the end of this year.
“Our plans to expand are still on, but given the situation in Puerto Rico, where restaurants are opening and closing, we’re being ‘positively precautious’,” said Christian Gándara, franchisee for the Puerto Rico market, in an interview with this media outlet.
The company is still considering opening in Bayamón, Carolina or Guaynabo before the end of the year, following the favorable acceptance of its Caguas location — its one and only restaurant operating in Puerto Rico so far. Initially, the company announced it would be opening a second restaurant last year, which did not happen.
“We’re in talks with different property owners, negotiating reasonable leasing rates considering Puerto Rico’s economic situation,” he said. “All of Puerto Rico is somewhat anticipating what’s going to happen next, but we believe this is a cycle that Puerto Rico will get over.””
Upon marking its first anniversary on Feb. 20, the Pollo Campero franchise conducted a market study involving its customers, who provided “feedback and ideas on what we’ve been doing right and wrong,” he said.
“But when it comes to the food, products and service, we received good feedback,” he said. “We have room to improve in our marketing efforts, however. But we’re only one restaurant, and don’t have the leverage other chains do for marketing.”
To establish itself in Puerto Rico, the Guatemalan chicken chain spent $250,000, which is the likely investment it will make on future Puerto Rico locations. So far, sales at the Caguas store have met expectations, “and are neither below or above them,” Gándara said.
Last year, Pollo Campero as one of 10 private-sector companies that vowed to help the current administration meet its goal of creating 50,000 jobs in 18 months.