Pollo Tropical restaurants flocking up in Texas


First Texas location opened Friday; chain plans to open 20 more in the state this year.

Pollo Tropical CEO Tim Taft at a Pollo Tropical on 27th Avenue and US 1 in Miami on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Pollo Tropical CEO Tim Taft at a Pollo Tropical on 27th Avenue and US 1 in Miami on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

The first Pollo Tropical in Texas opened Friday with the fanfare of a mayoral proclamation, a steel-drum band and rides on a simulated surfing machine.

The new fast-casual restaurant in Addison, about 15 miles north of Dallas, is situated within walking distance of the headquarters of Pollo Tropical’s parent company, Fiesta Restaurant Group.

Fiesta owns and operates about 100 Pollo Tropical restaurants in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and now Texas, where Fiesta plans to open about another 20 more this year. There are three dozen franchisee-owned Pollo Tropicals in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Fiesta, which also owns the Taco Cabana chain, is a publicly traded company that reported $551.3 million in 2013 revenue. Pollo Tropical sales were up 5.9 percent and store traffic increased 2.7 percent last year, the company said. The typical Pollo Tropical store sees an industry-leading $2.6 million average unit volume.

Pollo Tropical was started by two brothers as a single restaurant in Miami in 1988. Larry and Stuart Harris sold the company 10 years later to Carrols Corp., Burger King’s largest U.S. franchisee, for about $90 million.

Carrols spun off the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana brands in 2012 by creating Fiesta. The company tapped Tim Taft as chief executive; he previously led Pizza Inn and Whataburger.

“Over the last couple years we said we’re ready to have [Pollo Tropical] grow to a national scale and not just be in the southeast or Florida,” Taft said to the Dallas Business Journal.

Fiesta worked to amp up Pollo Tropical’s Caribbean theme in Texas to keep it from getting lost among the many Tex-Mex restaurants there. The Addison location features new menu items, including calypso beef and rum punch.

“The last thing we’d want to do is come into the epicenter of Tex-Mex or Mexican food and have something you’d have to visually overcome,” Taft said to the Business Journal. “From the front door to the back door, there’s nothing we haven’t changed.”

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