A storied Guatemalan restaurant has brought its Latin American flavor all the way to Sunset Park.
Immensely popular in its home country for its authentic Latin chicken dishes, Pollo Campero, 4518 Fifth Avenue, opened its first corporate-owned Brooklyn restaurant in December 2015, and has been a hit with locals ever since.
“It’s such a unique story for the Latin American brand to have success and have it come to the United States and also have success. Many times, it’s the other way around,” said Joanne Guerrero, marketing manager of Pollo Campero. “It’s our only one in Brooklyn and it’s been a fantastic location. As you know, Sunset Park is very neighborhood oriented.”
There was once a franchisee version of the restaurant in Sunset, but it closed its doors in 2006.
Always a family owned business, the first Campero restaurant opened in Guatemala in 1971. After its initial success, the family decided to expand to El Salvador in 1972 and throughout Central America over the next decade. The first New York restaurant was opened in Queens to much fanfare.
“What’s so fantastic is our menu not only appeals to Latin American customers, but we have all backgrounds coming in and trying our food. It’s very diverse.”added Guerrero.
Although there are plenty of high quality restaurants in Sunset, Guerrero says that Pollo Campero brings a unique style to the neighborhood. “It’s not your typical fast food restaurant,” she said. “We have people that are very open to meeting customers, and giving a warm welcome. It’s very natural. We also differentiate ourselves in the way we prepare and serve the food.”
According to the marketing manager, everything is made to order and the chicken is never frozen. “We serve a 100 percent hormone-free chicken. The recipes are all based on the original ones from Guatemalan restaurants,” Guerrero said.
Unique menu items include street corn salad, Latin bowl, and Latin based grilled chicken, a citrus-based marinated dish that is a local favorite. “It is popular in Sunset Park,” she said. “They try our flagship product, the fried chicken, but the grilled is loved. Our customers also really like Camperitos, boneless bites of 100 percent white meat chicken that are deep fried, hand-battered, and served with different sauces.”
Since its opening, locals have been receptive to the eatery. “I feel we’ve been embraced by the community,” she said. “Most of our customers are from the neighborhood. On weekends, the dynamic slightly changes. Large families come after church celebrations, or have Sunday meal at our place.”
In just a few months, the corporate owned Pollo Campero, part of the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), has embraced the community. “They’re helping us meet community organizers and to be a part of neighborhood,” she said. “We try to support schools, local sports teams, organizations and churches. We’re always happy to support anyone or do fundraisers at schools. We believe in giving back to the community.”