Chicken Down

Pollo Tropical restaurant chain suffers massive closures, including Houston

Pollo Tropical restaurant chain suffers closures, including Houston

Chicken at Pollo Tropical restaurant
If you want this, you'll have to go to South Texas. Photo courtesy of Pollo Tropical

Sad news if you liked Pollo Tropical, the chicken restaurant chain. Fiesta Restaurant Group, its Addison-based owner, abruptly closed all locations in Dallas-Fort Worth; Austin; and Nashville, Tennessee on April 24. Three locations in the Houston-area also closed, although the stores in Pearland and west Houston remain open.

The company, which also owns the Taco Cabana chain, will continue to operate 19 Pollo Tropical restaurants, including 13 in Atlanta and six in South Texas, to work through strategies for future Pollo Tropical expansion beyond Florida. Up to five closed restaurants may be rebranded as Taco Cabanas. Where possible, employees impacted by restaurant closures will be offered positions at nearby restaurants.

Fiesta president and CEO Richard Stockinger says in a release that they've done a comprehensive review of all aspects of the business.

"Fiesta's recent growth initiatives diverted resources from our core markets, and some amount of renewal is required to restore momentum in these markets," he says. "While the decision to close restaurants is never easy, we believe it is vital to focus the company's resources and efforts on markets and locations that have proven successful for our brands."

But he still has faith in Pollo Tropical.

"Prior disappointing expansion results in the Northeast and Texas notwithstanding, we believe the Pollo Tropical brand, featuring its fire-grilled marinated chicken, will serve as a platform for regional translation and substantial long-term growth," Stockinger says.

The company plans to relaunch the Pollo Tropical brand in September, and to relaunch the Taco Cabana brand later in the year. That will involve improving the quality and freshness of ingredients, addressing deferred maintenance needs to bring restaurants up to a high-quality standard, and reducing costs. Fiesta also plans to curtail new restaurant development and remodeling until it finishes the revitalization.