March 27, 2014
DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL by Danielle Abril | Addison soon will be home to the first Pollo Tropical location in Texas.
The Caribbean-inspired fast casual will open its doors at 5290 Belt Line Road on Friday, marking the first step of a major expansion plan into the state.
“We have been tweaking this brand for the last 12 years,” said Tim Taft, CEO of Addison-based Fiesta Restaurant Group, which operates Pollo Tropical. “Over the last couple years we said we’re ready to have it grow to a national scale and not just be in the southeast or Florida. Texas is our first market outside of the southeast.”
The company plans to open an estimated 30 locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, as well as expand to other Texas markets. This year, the company expects to open 10 Texas locations in cities including Houston and San Antonio.
Management reworked the brand before beginning the expansion process, equipping the concept with a new look, menu items and marketing.
“I would look at it as a new beginning,” Chief Operating Officer Danny Meisenheimer said. “This was the first best opportunity for us to convey who it is we are.”
Management quickly realized that they wanted to differentiate the concept from traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants.
“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. “From the front door to the back door, there’s nothing we haven’t changed,”
So the company used vibrant colors common to the Caribbean to decorate its new model. It also features new menu items, including all-natural refresca juices, rum punch and calypso beef.
It’s menu features island favorites such as sweet plantains, fried yucca, mojo roasted pork and its signature flame-grilled citrus chicken.
“It really is an adventure in this menu that we really would like to get people introduced to,” Meisenheimer.
Pollo Tropical is based in Miami. It currently has 105 domestic eateries and international restaurants in locations including Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Panama. Since 2011, Pollo Tropical has been owned by Fiesta Restaurant Group (NASDAQ: FRGI), which also owns Taco Cabana and Cabana Grill.