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