Scott from Virginia left a comment on my recent post that drew attention to Pollo Campero's expansion into global markets, reporting that when his local branch opened "there were lines for months, police directing traffic, and guardrails installed to channel the queue."
Campero made its momentous leap from regional to global chain after they studied the till receipts from their restaurants in Central American airports. A couple of years ago V came across quite a touching case of this traffic. Due to adverse weather conditions her flight to Houston from Guatemala was diverted to an airfield in north west Texas. After a wait there, she and a small group of assorted Central Americans were eventually flown back down to Houston, but found the city in some disarray and with very few spare hotel rooms around George Bush Intercontinental. The airline (Continental) gave them vouchers for accommodation and packed them all onto a minibus, but when they reached the allocated hotel they were told there were no longer any vacancies. This disappointment reoccurred at two additional locations before a chap from El Salvador applied the necessary aggression to the situation and space was found for them at a Days Inn.
Many hours had passed since the first flight landed and V had noticed that there was an old Guatemalan lady in the group clutching a small Pollo Campero take-away bag. V tried to persuade her to tuck in, but she insisted that she was taking these camperitos (chicken nuggets) to her niece in America. By then they must have been very cold and the vieja was herself obviously very hungry, but she clung resolutely to the idea of carrying this little paper bag of happy Guatemalan flavours to the home of her relatives in exile.
The US branches of Campero serve Horchata and Tamarindo along with Coca-Cola. Recently V has been encouraging me to drink a lot of tamarind for its health benefits. Fortunately our local ASDA has started selling it in a solid form that can be diluted and strained. Aside from anything else, once you get used to the flavour, it's a real thirst quencher.
I'm not not sure if Scott's local Campero is Herndon or Falls Church, but I've heard that the latter features a mural depicting Latino achievements in the US, very much the topic of the moment. (More on that shortly...)