Guatemalan chicken chain Pollo Campero opened a restaurant in Hyattsville earlier this year as part of a major effort to expand in the United States.
The Dallas-based chain, which also operates in several Central American countries, is considered the world’s largest Latin chicken restaurant chain, but it’s poised to break out in the U.S. market thanks to changing national demographics.
With 73 stores mostly in California, Texas and New York, Pollo Campero set out to open 14 more this year, including one in Silver Spring. (Other D.C. area locations: Takoma Park, Laurel, Falls Church and Alexandria.)
But Hyattsville makes particular sense. About one-third of the city’s population is Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census, with the majority listing a family origin in Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where Pollo Campero already is popular.
Pollo Campero (the name means “rural chicken”) focuses on grilled and fried chicken that’s been marinated served with dipping sauces and plantains or yucca fries. Fresh fruit drinks like tamarindo and guava outsell Pepsi, and dulce de leche empanadas and flan are on the dessert menu.
The area has also proven to be popular with international chains. BonChon, a South Korean fried chicken chain, is also in University Town Center, while Nando’s, a South African chicken chain, is in College Park. El Comalito, a Salvadoran restaurant along Baltimore Avenue in Riverdale Park, is always packed.
For a family-owned chain that’s looking to attract new customers, those are all good clues that Hyattsville is safe enough to attract its base but also adventurous enough to bring in new folks.