Saturday, December 22, 2018

[NEWSFLASH] Pollo Tropical Chickens Out in Atlanta, Closes All Area Restaurants

Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc., the Dallas, Texas-based owner of the Pollo Tropical restaurant chain, quietly closed all of their remaining Atlanta area locations effective December 20.  The nine Atlanta restaurant closures were in addition five Pollo Tropical closures in Florida and nine of the company's Taco Cabana restaurants in Texas.  

The closures were announced as part of the completion of the company's "Strategic Renewal Plan" and "Comprehensive Restaurant Portfolio Review."  The announcement further explained that "The 14 closed Pollo Tropical restaurants contributed approximately $15.1 million in restaurant sales and $4.6 million in restaurant level pre-tax operating losses, including $2.0 million in depreciation expense, for the eleven months ended December 2, 2018."  

By comparison, the average McDonald's generates about $2.7 million per unit whereas the average Chick-fil-A generates about $4 million per unit, according to a 2018 report by QSR Magazine.  

The Atlanta closures included the following restaurants:

McDonough on Highway 20 West in South Point (July 2016)
Atlanta on Cobb Parkway in Akers Mill Square (May 2012)
Tucker on LaVista Road in an outparcel of Target (September 2016)
Austell on Austell Road (March 2015)
Snellville on Scenic Highway in an outparcel of Lowe's Home Improvement (December 2015)
Lawrenceville at Duluth Highway in an outparcel of Lawrenceville Market (August 2011)
Woodstock on Molly Lane (August 2015)
Buford on Buford Drive in an outparcel of Sam's Club (July 2015)
Kennesaw on Barrett Parkway in an outparcel of Cobb Place (May 2013)

The company posted notices at each restaurant that read:
"We've loved having you as our loyal guest, and it was a hard decision to leave.  We're sorry for any inconvenience. We hope you'll visit us on your next trip to Florida."
As recently as late October, the company was hiring for assorted hourly and salary positions at its Atlanta area restaurants including at least one "Restaurant Manager" position, according to postings on LinkedIn.  
Pollo Tropical Buford shortly after its July 2015 debut 
Pollo Tropical previously closed all locations in Texas and Tennessee and now operates solely in Florida.  


This latest round of closures is the final nail in the coffin of the saga that was the Florida born brand's return to metro Atlanta after a decade+ absence.  A franchisee previously operated a few Pollo Tropical restaurants in metro Atlanta in the late 90s, the buildings of at least two of which remain standing today.  The current Caribou Coffee+Einstein Bros. Bagels at Toco Hills and the current Georgia Diner in Duluth were both originally Pollo Tropical restaurants.  

Following the chain's return to metro Atlanta in 2011, they experienced limited success.  Akers Mill was likely the chain's strongest location, while others, as in Tucker, were disappointments. 

Additionally, at least four Pollo Tropical restaurants were proposed in metro Atlanta since 2011 that were never built.  Those included sites on Roswell Road in north Buckhead, where AAA Car Care Plus later opened, Snellville, where the chicken chain was to be paired on a former bank site with a Krispy Kreme but where a Taco Bell and Cook Out eventually opened.  Another Pollo Tropical was to be built in Toco Hills where a small strip center including a Piedmont Healthcare facility opened, and another across from Perimeter Mall where a Chase Bank recently opened.  

The brand last opened new restaurants in metro Atlanta in September 2016 (Tucker) but started to slow growth and close restaurants the following month when they closed in East Cobb

That closure was followed by those in Alpharetta, Cumming and Johns Creek in April 2017 and Hiram, Marietta, Newnan and Gainesville in December 2017.  

The former Alpharetta restaurant reopened earlier this summer as a Chase Bank, while the former Johns Creek restaurant reopened this past January as an Arby's.  The East Cobb location was demolished and just recently reopened as a Regions Bank, while the Hiram location reopened as a Del Taco.  
Pollo Tropical East Cobb shortly after its October 2016 closure 

A site plan for the Marietta location on Cobb Parkway in the Marietta Trade Center shopping center indicates it is becoming a Pollo Campero.  The Cumming, Newnan and Gainesville locations appear to still be vacant with the Newnan and Gainesville locations actively being marketed by The Shopping Center Group.

Pollo Tropical, now on its second exit from Atlanta, joins fellow quick-serve chicken chain El Pollo Loco as having exited the market after a relatively short stint.  A franchise group opened nine El Pollo Loco  in the greater metro Atlanta area beginning in late 2007, but by late 2009, the company had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, closed units and corporate took over.  By 2011, the Costa Mesa, California-based chain bailed on Atlanta entirely, and closed its remaining locations.  

Are you surprised that Pollo Tropical has exited the Atlanta market entirely?  What would you like to see open in place of one of the now closed Pollo Tropical locations in metro Atlanta?  What is your favorite quick-serve restaurant?  

Please share your thoughts below  

26 comments:

Georgia Water Tanks said...

I don't know anyone that even tried one.

Anonymous said...

Did the one in Austell off of
the East West Connector close?

Anonymous said...

yes. It is the one listed as Austell Road.

fespercan said...

Not surprised never tried it Sad but true. Cook out would be a good start I would eat there

CloseOTP said...

It was decent food at reasonable prices. I didn't eat there often, but their bowls (similar to a Moe's/Willy's burrito bowl) were tasty and you could get a small one and drink for $5 or $6. To the previous commenters - yes the Austell one closed as they said all locations outside of Florida has closed. To "Georgia White Tanks", maybe it didn't come up in conversation? "Hey have you ever been to Pollo Tropical" is generally not a conversation starter. LOL

PugDaddy said...

This really doesn't surprise me. I was a weekly regular at either the Tucker location or the Snellville location. The quality of a the food had gone way downhill at both. Pork not being seasoned properly and overcooked and the plantains way overcooked, served black. I'm sorry to see these locations close but I feel like they brought it upon themselves with inferior management and quality control. Adios Pollo !

Anonymous said...

Went to the one in Tucker when it first opened. Employees were rude, food was 30 mins getting to the table and not very good. Never went back to that one

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Mall of Georgia location can be converted to a Del Taco since there's not a Taco Bell between the Mall (excluding the one inside the mall) on Hwy 20 (the one past I-985 away from the mall is out of the way IMO).

Anonymous said...

I tried several while traveling through Florida and found the menu healthy. I took my family to the Kennesaw and Woodstock stores. Service was lousy and most of the tables were dirty. Teenagers working there messed up our orders at each of the stores and really didn't seem to care. I vowed never to enter another store.

Anonymous said...

The executives should be fired. How long ago did the Mall of Georgia location open? If your chain is not making enough money, why would you open new locations?

Secret Shopper said...

Went to the East Cobb location three times. That was 2 times too many. The service was terrible and the food was equally bad. They lost East in the first month. To be honest, they died two weeks after they opened. Sad cause on Sunday 53,000 Sunday going customers never bothered coming to eat there. They know how to kill a business.

Unknown said...

Bring- In and Out burger it's a sure profit in the west coast

Anonymous said...

WTF!!! I just got gift certificates to Polo tropical!

Anonymous said...

Restaurant killers........you know exactly what types of ‘teens’ and ‘bad employees’. Get real folks.....

Anonymous said...

I would contact corporate and demand a refund.

Anonymous said...

Re: Gift Cards - I would kindly request a refund while explaining how upset you are that one of you favorite places to eat is no longer in the area ("puffery"). Demanding (as suggested by another) generally does not get people to go out of their way for you. They don't owe you a refund, so kindness would be your better option.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to see them go! I really enjoyed their food, even though the chicken was semi dry, but the food was good!

Anonymous said...

Ate at Tucker location a few times, but was not impressed enough to return. There are too many other options nearby which are reliably quick, cleaner, and consistent in product delivered. Chic-fil-A sets a high standard...

Anonymous said...

It was one of our favorites and right near our home. Could get a good healthy meal for 4 for less than $20. Sad to see them close. Ended up at Publix for a far less tasty chicken two daysbqgo after realizing they had closed.

Ms.T said...

I’m not surprised. The Tucker location sucked and the customer service was non-existent. I wouldn’t mind having a whataburger.

Unknown said...

Poor planning by upper mgmt. If you want to hire a senior GM... then you might want to actually listen to some of the things they have to say. I’m not even slightly surprised that all of the stores closed. Fiesta Group was not willing to learn new things And think outside the box. They could not seem to realize that Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, etc. stores are not the same as Miami Florida..,they’re never going to be able to grow. They will only grow when they open up their minds and do not think they know everything. It really makes me sad as I truly believed in their concept and was hired in as a senior GM but did not ever open the store in Tennessee. I did not want my name associated with it. It was the first store to open in Tennessee and I could not get one person to actually listen. I feel sad that they spent thousands of dollars on me and I loved their concept but they were not open to listening to anything dealing with a growth..

Unknown said...

I am interested in the Snellville location. Anyone has contact information for that building? Please advise. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Yes

Anonymous said...

I would say they do owe a refund. If they closed all area locations without giving people warning and a chance to use any outstanding gift cards I say they absolutely do owe a refund.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVED Pollo Tropical. Not a healthier fast food option that tastes as good. I too purchased a $25 gift card and only used $8 of it. I should have gotten $35 for what I paid. I plan on disputing the charge with my credit card company. If that doesn't work I'll hold on to them until I visit FL again.

Shana Rivers Atlanta Realtor said...

Read the clauses in those gift card purchases.... some wont refund bc of resturant chain closure....

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