Friday, July 3, 2015

"Experimental concept" Cabana Grill Being Replaced by Pollo Tropical in Snellville

Test restaurant being rebranded in Snellville 

Addison, Texas-based Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc. plans to convert their existing Cabana Grill on Scenic Highway in Snellville into their Pollo Tropical restaurant.  The Cabana Grill was a brand extension of their Taco Cabana concept and opened last April.  The newly built restaurant sits on an outparcel of a Lowe's Home Improvement store.  

I contacted Pollo Tropical / Cabana Grill's Dallas, Texas-based PR firm and was supplied the following statement regarding the conversion:  

Cabana Grill is an experimental concept that now has two locations. We are converting our Snellville Cabana Grill location into a Pollo Tropical restaurant, a growing, iconic Florida brand that is also part of Fiesta Restaurant Group. Atlanta is a high priority market for Pollo Tropical’s expansion, which currently has seven other area locations and many more in the pipeline scheduled in the foreseeable future. We will offer management and team members jobs with the new restaurant as they will be part of our Atlanta development. We hope our Snellville guests will enjoy Pollo Tropical’s island-inspired menu that focuses on the brand’s signature flame-grilled, citrus-marinated chicken and authentic sauces and sides.”   
Timothy P. Taft – CEO Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc

I visited the restaurant a few times and was genuinely impressed with the Disney-like hospitality I experienced from general manager William Moses.  I witnessed him converse multiple times with customers new and old like family, rather than like patrons.  It's clear to me that while the concept seemingly did not prove successful, the efforts of Mr. Moses and his team definitely made a positive impact on the patrons.  

The Snellville / Lawrenceville corridor along Scenic Highway has been  especially popular with restaurants and as such, has made the area quite competitive. Del Taco and Chipotle Mexican Grill both operate relatively new locations in the area with each having better name recognition than Cabana Grill.  The pricing at Cabana Grill placed them in the somewhat difficult to define "flex casual" category where they were slightly below Chipotle and above Del Taco.  

A Pollo Tropical and Krispy Kreme were previously proposed on the site of a former  BB&T Bank nearby but that project failed to materialize.  When I confirmed in February that the deal was no longer happening, I was told that the site was "abandoned" in favor of an unspecified "alternate location," also in Snellville. The Cabana Grill location would seem to be that previously unspecified "alternate location."

A second Cabana Grill was proposed on North Druid Hills at Toco Hills but those plans were met with great neighborhood opposition.  There are reportedly plans to alter the design of the restaurant and open a Pollo Tropical instead but that deal is far from done, according to a well placed real estate source. 

Previously announced Pollo Tropical locations in East Cobb and Buford by the Mall of Georgia are both slated to open late this summer.  

Did you ever visit Cabana Grill, if so what did you think?  
Do you like Pollo Tropical?  
What is your favorite Mexican eatery along Scenic Highway?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

I did not visit Cabana Grill and I do like Pollo Tropical. However, I think just slightly more than one year is far too short of a test period to determine the success of a new brand. It takes a year just for people to figure out you're there, try it, and then spread the word of their experience. I don't know why they'd go to the expense of creating a brand and then not giving it a chance to establish itself. Patience is a virtue.

Anonymous said...

Can they put a Pollo Tropical south of I-20, PLEASE?

Unknown said...

We loved the food at cabana grill, my family really going to miss it.

Anonymous said...

I will miss cabana grill and their employees dearly! Happy Hour was amazing and karaoke night was fun fun times. Highly saddened that a pollo tropical will take its place!

Unknown said...

I'm extremely late with my comment but here it is.... my family is PISSSSSED that a Pollo Tropical, which I don't enjoy in the least, took the place of Cabana Grill! First Taco Cabana and now Cabana Grill. I swear, there is not a single place that I can go to for tacos, fajitas and margaritas. Not that I enjoy. My family used to drive over to Taco Cabana on a regular basis and then we were so happy that Cabana Grill, similar options, was opening in our neighborhood.... only to be replaced with that nasty Pollo Tropical place which is already in the neighborhood right off of 316. Bad call!

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