Pollo Campero Carves Out a Lucrative Space in a $38 Billion Segment by Bringing Cultures Together Through Chicken
With a wide-ranging appeal that amplifies traditional American favorites with deeper flavors, Pollo Campero is garnering a loyal customer base and aims to hit 100 units by next year and 250 by the end of 2026.
Pollo Campero, the fast-casual chicken franchise with 80-plus U.S. locations and another 270 around the world, is growing its customer base by the day. While many other brands struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pollo Campero saw significant sales growth thanks to its unique menu, loyal customer base and family-centric culture. Now, with a new strategy to reach more customers by opening 250 restaurants across the U.S. over the next five years, Pollo Campero is set to become one of the most dominant players in the $38 billion fast food chicken franchise segment.
And if there is one segment to dominate, chicken is a strong choice. According to the National Chicken Council, nine out of every 10 customers purchase chicken regularly, and every year, Americans consume more than 65 billion chickens. Consumer Affairs reported in an article titled, “Chicken Envy is Alive and Well in the Fast Food Industry,” that chicken franchises are not only growing faster than other concepts like burgers and pizza, but they also offer a far more stable investment.
“The chicken category is booming and shows no signs of slowing down, and Pollo Campero is one of the best opportunities in the category,” said Fernando Perez, Pollo Campero’s Senior Director of Operations.
Pollo Campero Was Born With a Mission To Deliver Quality Flavor
In 1971, Pollo Campero began in Guatemala as a family-owned business with a carefully crafted menu of rich and complex chicken recipes. The concept caught on quickly and won over the local community, eventually growing to hundreds of locations throughout Latin America, into Italy and Spain and expanding into the U.S.
“The founders of Pollo Campero actually came to the U.S. to study fried chicken,” said Luis Javier Rodas (LJ), Managing Director & COO. “They wanted to make sure they honored both the origins in Latin American cuisine but also make sure that the fried chicken was as good as it could possibly be. We’re talking about marinated to the bone, slow-down-and-enjoy-every-bite chicken. A deep, rich and unique taste that can only be obtained by uniting the freshest ingredients with the best, complementary spices. It’s about combining generations of family recipes into the perfect, savory bite.”
As the brand rapidly grew its footprint outside of Central America and perfected its menu, this mission to provide diverse and high-quality flavors translated to a rabid fan base in the U.S.
“The first time I visited a Pollo Campero restaurant in the U.S., the line was around the block,” said Rodas. “When I started talking to the people waiting, they said, ‘Pollo Campero is like going home for us.’ There are many folks here from Guatemala and other Latin American countries. So, when you offer a product that this population grew up with, it’s a big deal to them. Our legacy customers spend a lot more money with us than with most other chicken brands.”
Bringing people together is a theme at Pollo Campero, where family-sized meals can be shared for dine-in, take-out or drive-thru. Yet another thing that differentiates the brand, the average ticket at Pollo Campero is between $23 and $25, more than twice as much as the average QSR transaction of $10.99, according to ??Delaget’s 2020 QSR Operational Index
Now, as chicken franchise brands boom in the U.S., Rodas says the brand offers franchisees an opportunity to tap into a proven menu unlike anything else in the category.
“We have been able to occupy a space in our category with only a few players that directly compete with our offerings,” said Rodas. “There are plenty of fried chicken on the bone players who compete on price, you have fried-only competitors and grilled-only competitors–at Pollo Campero, we offer better chicken offerings in both fried and grilled formats, chicken on the bone and boneless, for a variety of occasions and that makes us unique.”
Pollo Campero Transcends Cultural Lines and Regional Tastes by Combining Flavors
After 20 years of successfully building their portfolio of restaurants in markets throughout the United States, Pollo Campero has gained a huge crossover audience that extends to every demographic. Rodas says Pollo Campero prides itself on celebrating diversity and the beauty of melding tastes by offering a melting pot of Latin American and U.S. flavors, including everything from classic fried chicken and empanadas to corn salad and sweet plantains.
“There’s a passion for this brand in the U.S. that’s really catching on,” said Atlanta-based, multi-unit franchisee Richard Summers. “Pollo Campero internationally is well-known, especially in Central and South America, as the only brand that sells both grilled chicken and fried chicken on the bone. So we have a loyalty from the Central American people, particularly, that is phenomenal because they know we are the only place to get that offering in the U.S. It’s almost like the country identifies with the brand, and you have to really be in the restaurant to know how strong this is. It would be like me opening the first McDonald’s in China, and you have 100 people saying, ‘Oh wow, we can get McDonald’s here now.’ They flock to us because of good memories growing up with the brand. It’s a crazy phenomenon that I didn’t understand until I saw it with my own eyes.”
In 2019, in an article titled “Why You Need to Go to Pollo Campero, the KFC of Latin America,” Thrillist recommended that every American try the brand for themselves, raving about the “juicy, juicy, juicy” meat and the “perfectly spiced and crispy” chicken skin, saying the concept had the potential to “influence the greater culinary landscape in the U.S. to the point where it gets woven into the very fabric of what we call American food.”
“Pollo Campero has extended its reach beyond just Latin America by focusing on a quality chicken offering that is great for sharing — it’s all about flavors that appeal to a broad base of customers,” said Rodas. “No matter your background, we believe feeding your family doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor or quality.”
Speaking of family, Rodas points out that Pollo Campero has also strived to keep a family-centric mindset throughout the brand’s journey as a way to bring the communities they serve closer together.
“We truly believe that family values are essential to our growth and success,” he said. “We also understand our family extends beyond our doors and into our communities. We are in this together. And together we have held local events, raised money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and made the community a little more flavorful.”
Pollo Campero’s Unmatched Consumer Offering Positions Franchisees for Success
Pollo Campero’s fan-favorite menu and broad demographic appeal, combined with the brand’s steadfast commitment to supporting the communities it serves, allows franchisees to tap into a built-in customer base of millions of loyal fans. This proved to be a particularly critical benefit after the COVID-19 pandemic upended the restaurant landscape.
As a result, Rodas says Pollo Campero’s AUV is top tier, especially for emerging chicken concepts.
“The past few years have been incredible for Pollo Campero, and we’ve been grateful to have the ongoing support of our fans,” said Rodas. “Now, as we move forward with a strategic growth mindset and look to hit 100 units by next year and 250 by the end of 2026, we are eager to bring Pollo Campero to more communities by partnering with qualified franchisees who can build locally owned businesses they can be proud of.”
With this enthusiastic expansion plan in place, the brand is looking to attract multi-unit, multi-brand franchisees in markets around the country, starting with Arizona, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Initial investments range from $887,250 – $2,126,500*. For more information, visit: https://camperofranchise.com/
*To see the brand’s full reported financials, please reference Pollo Campero’s Franchise Disclosure Document (updated June 7, 2021).