“It's the chicken, the chicken, the chicken, the chicken,” says Richard Stockinger, CEO of the Latin chain’s parent, Fiesta Restaurant Group. And, indeed, the struggling brand has already revamped its menu signature, replacing thigh meat with all-white breast meat because customers said they preferred it.
But that’s hardly the only change in store for the chain, which posted a 6.7% decline in same-store sales on an 8.9% drop in traffic for the first quarter. Pollo Tropical, along with sister brand Taco Cabana, will get a complete makeover, including a recipe update. “We are in the process of revising product specifications and recipes to include more natural, fresh, and higher-quality ingredients than recently used,” Stockinger told financial analysts.
Employees are being retrained to upgrade food quality, kitchen operations and service levels, he added.
And the redo doesn’t stop there. “Other restaurant-level programs are being refined, including dress attire, music, health and sanitation, pest control, line checks, and receiving procedures,” Stockinger said.
He said the recovery plan parallels the comeback strategy he implemented at Benihana. It was drafted after Fiesta failed to find a buyer for either of its brands.