Restaurant News

Pollo Tropical Closes Numerous Texas Locations

Shrimp and beans at Pollo Tropical.
Shrimp and beans at Pollo Tropical. Photo by Pollo Tropical
Miami-born Caribbean-inspired fast-food chain Pollo Tropical has closed all of its Dallas and Austin locations, and is halting any expansion plans of its sister eatery Taco Cabana, according to a report from Restaurant Business. The Houston Press also reached out to a representative of the restaurant, who confirmed that three Houston locations have also been closed. The Texas-based closures are part of a 30-store shutter including locations in Georgia and Tennessee as well.

Parent company Fiesta Restaurant Group is reportedly planning a major rebranding and relaunch of Pollo Tropical in September, followed by a revamp of Taco Cabana by end of year. It's an effort to revive the fading brand since a new CEO took over in early 2017.

It's likely that the shuttered Pollo Tropical locations will just become Taco Cabanas, but the rebrand will also place an emphasis on new  "natural" ingredients, increased staffing, and online delivery and catering — factors all fast-food empires are having to deal with in the age of Chipotle and fast-casual concepts focused on healthier dining. Pollo Tropical is known primarily for citrus-marinated grilled chicken and black beans to begin with, so not necessarily unhealthy.

Apparently, both Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana sales have been on the decline, slipping 6.7 and 4.5 percent respectively in first quarter earnings. Fiesta previously tried to sell the Pollo Tropical brand in 2016, but there were no takers.

The chain opened its first location in Houston in 2014. The three Pollo Tropicals in Houston that have shuttered are:

25635 US 59, Kingwood
21441 Tomball Parkway
6522 Westheimer

Remaining open at this time are the Pearland and the Eldridge (at Westheimer) locations.
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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.