Pollo Campero delights fans in San Francisco
The Guatemalen fried chicken ‘campero’ franchise opened its first Bay Area restaurant in San Francisco, on Dec. 10, 2012, amid the excitement of hundreds of faithful followers.
Pollo Campero was created by Dionisio Guiterrez in 1971. His success has been extensive: Pollo Campero can be found in 13 states, in addition to locations in Central America, Mexico, Ecuador, Indonesia, Andorra, Italy, Spain, India, Bahrein and China.
During the day dozens of people can be found waiting in line for a table outside of the new Pollo Campero location at 2740 Mission St.
“We are really excited because it’s like a dream to have the opportunity to enjoy it in our city,” said Gustavo Lara, a Mission District resident.
“It’s risen above all of our expectations,” Director of Marketing Ingrid Martinez said, referring to the welcoming that the restaurant has had in San Francisco. “We want the opportunity to bring Central American families a bit of their home country.”
Evidence of the aforementioned praise of the restaurant can be found not only in the lines forming outside of the restaurant (Pollo Campero hired its own security guard to keep the guests in order) but also in the comments of customers confirming the quality and flavor of the restaurant.
“There is no comparison here. Pollo Campero will not have competition,” Jose Aguilar, an avid fan, said enthusiastically, while devouring piece after piece of his favorite chicken. “I am so happy that it’s easy for me to get it here in San Francisco, it means a lot to me as a Guatemalen. It fills me with pride.”
In a country where KFC and Popeyes are two of the biggest fried chicken restaurant chains, Pollo Campero hopes to win its own name and prestige by using the same original recipe since the first day it opened and offering a Latino touch to their sides menu, which includes rice, beans, tortillas, horchata or tamarind. Pollo Campero strives to provide alternative options to the Anglo community while continuing to satisfy a large part of the Latin American community.
For Pollo Campero employee Abigail Monroy, it’s been a wonderful yet demanding experience.
“The customers are always comparing,” she said, laughing, at customers who compare the taste of the San Francisco restaurant with the Pollo Campero in their home countries.
The San Francisco location is unique because it currently offers table service, whereas historically, Pollo Campero has been run as a fast food style restaurant.
“Our table service is something new that could possibly define the new setup of future locations,” Martinez said.
According to Martinez it took approximately two years to bring Pollo Campero to San Francisco. “It was a long process due to complications with permits,” added Martinez, who is considering San Jose and Oakland as potential locations for future Pollo Campero establishments.
“Our fans asked us to open up a place in San Francisco … We are extremely happy,” he said.
Within the Salvadoran community it has become increasingly popular to bring Pollo Campero on the plane to San Francisco. You can find a Pollo Campero location at the Airport in El Salvador, serving travelers flying long distances to destinations like San Francisco.
“Every time I traveled on the flight to San Francisco, everyone brought Pollo Campero,” remembers Ana Maria Palma, a frequent traveler to Nicaragua, who always has a lay-over in El Salvador. “I never had the opportunity to purchase Pollo Campero in the airport because it is located in the waiting area, outside of the gates.”
“We are really grateful for the community in San Francisco,” Martinez said. “We wanted to be in a place where our people are.”
Pollo Campero is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for table service, or for to- go orders through its side entrance.