Over the years, I have witnessed the evolution of Pollo Campero, which is, par excellence, the traditional, long-standing, chicken fast food restaurant and recipe in several nations in Central America. An original from Guatemala founded in 1971, it is now owned and operated by CMI Alimentos. Operations have been spread to El Salvador and the U.S. (in 19 states, from Arkansas to Virginia), Southern Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador and even Spain, China and Indonesia.

But Pollo Campero − which has earned its place among the traditional international fast-food brands  is more than just fried chicken. One of the things that surprised me is the loyalty that Guatemalans in particular, and Central Americans in general, have for the brand. It is actually more than loyalty. It is high regard. It means nostalgia. People feel home sick about Pollo Campero.

I recently visited one of the new Pollo Campero restaurants in Guatemala City. It is a modern and nice place. When I got there, I realized it is beyond the regular chicken fast food restaurant. First of all, you do not stand in line to order. You are actually seated by a host/hostess and then you are waited at the table. You choose from a real menu (either printed or from a QR) from a variety of their famous fried chicken recipe dishes to more modern dishes such as salads or bowls. The service is fast, and the food is good quality.

Suddenly, the waiter asked me if everything was OK, and I just mentioned that the avocado in my chicken bowl was not exactly good. A few seconds later, he came with a plate full of avocado slices. I could tell they care for the customer.

But allow me to go back to nostalgia. I then flew to Honduras to attend the OVUM 2022. It has been a few years since I flew internally in Central America and I kind of forgot that people actually fly with boxes of Pollo Campero. They feel proud about their chicken and take it to relatives and friends to taste it. You could smell Campero fried chicken all flight long. 

But the icing on the cake came when the flight attendants were giving the instructions and said: “Please, place your small personal belongings such as backpacks, bags and Pollo Campero shopping underneath the seat in front of you.” I’m not kidding!

Very few brands can claim such an accomplishment.

What do you think?