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Monday, February 14, 2011

Mission Importers Not Playing Chicken With Pollo Campero

Posted By and on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 6:27 PM

click to enlarge GOOD ENOUGH TO IMPORT
  • Good enough to import

This week, the city's Planning Commission will be considering the application of Pollo Campero, the beloved Guatemalan fried chicken chain to take over the space of the old Payless ShoeSource on Mission Street.

Our sister blog, SFoodie, has written before about the underground dealers of the chain's chicken in the Mission District, driving boxes of the fried chicken up from the franchise in Los Angeles. Well, today we discovered yet another Pollo Campero dealer, Excel courier service at 24th and Alabama Streets, which actually flies the stuff in from Guatemala itself.


Yet owner Leo Gonzalez says he doesn't feel his importation

business will be affected one bit by the fact Guatemalans will

potentially be able to get their fix on Mission Street.

Gonzalez says that Guatemalan clients tell him that the fried chicken

from the Los Angeles franchise "doesn't taste the same. The people

prefer it comes from Guatemala. People go to Los Angeles to buy the

chicken but they don't like it."

Gonzalez says he takes between 20 and 50 orders from clients each week for a little

box with four pieces of fried chicken. The chicken is flown by plane from

Guatemala in a refrigerated compartment, then driven from the airport to

his shop each Saturday morning in a refrigerated van. The recipients

have to come pick it up the same day -- and then only need to heat it


The charge for a box of chicken straight from Central America? Between $8 and $10, Gonzalez says -- and he only pockets $1. Basically, he

does it to draw more clients, not for the profits. "It's an added

service so that more people will come." 

Gonzalez -- who is Mexican, though 90 percent of his clients are

Guatemalan -- says he's tried the chicken one time to see what all the

fuss is about.

"It's good," but he says the price, "seems a little


He says, in the end, he suspects the demand for the chicken is

less about the taste than "the culture, the tradition," for immigrants

far away from their own country's fast food.

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Lauren Smiley

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