Monday, April 24, 2017

Pollo Tropical Pulls Back Again, Closes 30 Units:Three in Georgia

Chicken chain to close three more metro units.

Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc., the Dallas, Texas-based owner of the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana restaurant chains, announced earlier today that they will be closing 30 more Pollo Tropical restaurants.  As many as five of the closing Pollo Tropical units may be converted to the Taco Cabana concept, the company said. 

Fiesta has gone through a number of changes in recent months, most notably was longtime CEO Tim Taft retiring this past September.  The company’s board subsequently pulled pack on their previously announced plan to separate its two concepts. Richard Stockinger, former CEO and president of Benihana Inc., was named CEO of Fiesta this past February.

In metro Atlanta the restaurant closures include the following locations:
10900 Haynes Bridge Road in Alpharetta 
1510 Market Place Boulevard in Cumming
5815 State Bridge Road in Johns Creek

According to a representative from the restaurant, all restaurants announced to be closing were effectively closed after dinner service this past Sunday.

The closures of the Cumming and North Point locations are not shocking to me considering I personally had bad experiences at both locations within the past few months. Staffing, among other issues, is one area that has plagued the chain in their entry into new markets such as Atlanta.    

Although I was unable to get any indication of the company's plans, I think it's highly unlikely that any of the Atlanta area restaurants will be converted to the Taco Cabana brand.  

Atlanta's only Taco Cabana restaurant was reportedly operated by a "rogue franchisee," and closed in 2013.  

As I reported in 2015, the company converted its short-lived "experimental concept" Cabana Grill on Scenic Highway in Snellville to Pollo Tropical.  

This past October, the company shuttered 10 of its then 209 Pollo Tropical restaurants, mostly in its recent expansion market of Texas.  The closures, part of the company's "portfolio review," meant the closure of one metro Atlanta location on Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb.  The East Cobb closure, like many of the others, was a new location, having barely been open a year. Sources indicate that the East Cobb location, advertised by The Shopping Center Group as a  "State of the Art Restaurant Building," has received a fair amount of interest but is also premium priced given its newness and location.  

The 30 additional closures announce today are mostly in recently built-out markets.  Fiesta will close all Pollo Tropical locations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, and Nashville, Tennessee.  

In addition to the three Atlanta closures, Pollo Tropical shuttered three units in Nashville, three in Houston, three in Austin, five in San Antonio and thirteen in Dallas-Fort Worth.  Two of the now shuttered Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants opened just this past September.  

Fiesta said it would continue to operate 19 Pollo Tropical restaurants outside its original market of Florida, including 13 units in Atlanta and six locations in south Texas.

A handful of Pollo Tropical restaurants operated in Atlanta in the late 90s under a franchisee, but closed in short order due to disappointing sales. The company re-entered the Atlanta market in 2011 under corporate control, with a location in Lawrenceville.  A short time after Pollo Tropical's return, El Pollo Loco, another quick-serve chicken chain, left the market entirely.  Launched as a franchise market in 2007, the Costa Mesa, California-based chain had assumed control of the restaurants in 2009, and immediately closed half the units locally.  By late 2011, all had closed with chains like Hardee's, Bojangles' and Del Taco, among others, taking over their former locations.  

Are you surprised that Pollo Tropical is closing so many locations?  What would you like to see open in place of the recently shuttered Atlanta area locations?  What is your favorite quick-serve chicken chain?

Please share your thoughts below.   

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad. They have bad operations managent in GA. We love the food. We've eaten at them in FL where they have their "A" game. The food in East Cobb (was) and Akers Mill is good. The employees are nice, it is just not run well/efficiently here in GA.

Anonymous said...

Shocked the Snellville location is staying as it is never busy. Expansion is not always a good thing and even though I have never eaten at one in FL would not try it when I am (often) there because of my bad experiences in GA.

Anonymous said...

Expect to see the remaining ATL locations to close by the end of the year these chains that pull out of markets leaving a handful of locations do not make corporate business sense to stay open. TBH the food is not good and if you look at social media many of the complaints are Florida locations.

Anonymous said...

The Johns Creek location was always good, clean, and well-staffed. However, it was never crowded.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised......I was a former employee at two Pollo Tropical restaurants, the Haynes Bridge location and Lavista. There were times where services did not live up to its expectations. I hope the other stores improve

Unknown said...

The North Point location had awful service every time we went so that's no surprise, although the food was fine. The Johns Creek location had much better service, so I'm surprised it's closing.

scorchoboy said...

they would benefit from a good business intelligence tool or proper forecasting. I've seen chains shave off at least 3% by implementing these tools.

Anonymous said...

Sad. I miss the one in East Cobb. Beautiful building, good food but service I though would improve over time. I guess time ran out.

Anonymous said...

I love the one by Cumberland Mall, I hope it doesn't close!!

Anonymous said...

Love Pollo Tropical and have been eating in their FL stores for many years. Was very excited when they returned to Atlanta. Hope that the new management can get things turned around!

Coolio said...

Last time I went I ordered a shrimp bowl. They said it comes with FIVE shrimp. Why are we counting shrimp? I don't expect 20 shrimp for $5 or $5.99, but if you can't run a sale on food and give out a semi-generous portion, don't bother.

This is one of those places that I wouldn't go without a coupon. I don't see it lasting. Plus, I NEVER hear anyone talking about it. Like... no one ever says, "Hey...meet me at Pollo Tropical." It's probably why the actors in their commercials LOOK like actors.

Chris P. said...

The food at the Cumming location was average at best. The chicken always seemed to be a little try. The staff was nice. But, I stopped going because of there rolls. How hard is it to have semi-fresh rolls. Every roll I ever had there was terrible.

Anonymous said...

Coolio - I love your comments, always funny but true!

Anonymous said...

The Alpharetta restaurant had less than mediocre management, lousy service with an attitude and not the best food handling practices. Not a surprise that they closed.

Stephanie Keller said...

No, I'm not surprised that they are closed. You have to have good operation managers and district managers with new and innovative ideas as you open in different states. No one wanted to change their basic operations based out of Orlando and Miami which worked well there but anybody could see that in the Northern areas and Texas it is way too competitive with better fast-casual chains. Really the key to all of the closings and failure was very poor management decisions. Actually the restaurant concept. I truly believe that the food is very good. So it is sad as I was lucky enough to have such an awesome trainer Gail. If it had good food and good management it could have succeeded in the new areas but not with upper management not willing to change.

Stephanie said...

I will be surprised if they actually post my comment

Stephanie said...

I already entered a long detailed comment that had some good and some bad details but they were definitely true.. I don't know if they will actually post it or not but they said

Stephanie said...

I will be surprised if they actually post my comment

John Zouse said...

Having lived in the town of Cumming Ga since 1974 it was a delight to have access to a wonderful chicken meal unlike any that has existed here before. Many locals were a buzz with curiosity, including myself, awaiting with anticipation for this new Cabana styled restaurant to open, and when it did. WOW! My hometown has never had anything like Tropica Pollo; it quickly became a favorite of my family's. Our location was always busy, and having never visited one in Fla. I can not compare the service, but if ever in traveling come upon one in Fla the memory of the great tasting food will surely draw me in.

GEORGE said...

I agree with the fact that Pollo Tropical seems to be a great hot spot in FL especially when you want a quick and reasonably priced chicken meal. However, the locations in GA are definitely missing the Caribbean hospitality and the portion sizes are very skimpy compared to FL.