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New Caribbean restaurant spices up Cool Springs

A new Caribbean breeze of flavor swept into Cool Springs June 10 when Pollo Tropical restaurant opened at 2017 Mallory Lane. It’s the brand’s first location in Williamson County, and the second in Middle Tennessee.

Kaeli Tolomeo, marketing coordinator (left to right); Teri Johnson, general manager; and Beto Leon, regional manager were present for the opening of the Pollo Tropical in Cool Springs. Photo by Keri Bartlett.


All but three of the 99 restaurants nationwide operating under the Pollo Tropical brand are owned and operated by Miami-based Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., (Nasdaq: FRGI). The other three are franchisee-owned and based on college campuses in Florida. The brand also has an international presence, with more than 30 franchisee-owned locations beyond U.S. borders.

The Miami-based restaurant offers a Caribbean-inspired menu sprinkled with tropical favorites such as Jamaican jerk seasoning, yucca – a root vegetable in the potato family – fried and sweet plantains, and traditional sides of the region including rice (yellow, white and brown), and beans (black and pinto).

However, the grilled chicken reigns as the star of the menu, which is freshly grilled “never frozen” in house after about 24-hours of marinating in Caribbean citrus flavors and spices.

The menu heavily features grilled chicken with Caribbean spices. Photo by Carole Robinson.

“Franklin is a family friendly area, and the restaurant provides a fresh, healthy alternative to fast food,” said Ashley Wojnar, regional marketing coordinator. “After eating the food, you don’t feel guilty. You feel good about the food that you are eating.”

Wojnar said that one of the most popular foods items is the salsa bar with Jamacian curry mustard and cilantro salsa among other combinations as well as the various styles of chicken offered.

“People come for the chicken,” she said. Breasts of marinated chicken with bone-in, chicken wings and chopped grilled chicken are featured on the menu.

Wojnar said that all sides and main dishes are prepared daily at the store including many different types of salads and toppings.

“I think that Caribbean food is something different for Franklin,” said General Manger Teri Johnson. “There’s a lot of Mexican [cuisine] in this area and fast food, but we are unique enough that families will enjoy our variety of options, including low calorie, vegetarian, packaged family meals and even party packages and tailgate options.”

Beto Leon, a regional director who has worked for the company for 18 years, said that the international chain is growing.

“Just five years ago, I managed two stores,” he said. “Now I am managing 20.”

The restaurant displays a Caribbean-feel decorated with wicker furniture and sounds of Caribbean-style music featuring steel drums playing overhead while customers make their tropical choices on the menu.

Customers especially inspired by the healthful meal offered can participate in the “21 Days to a New You” campaign sponsored by the restaurant in which meal options for lunch and dinner are outlined for 21 days.

The area’s other Pollo Tropical is located at 715 Team Drive in Smyrna, Tenn.

“We are growing because it’s really good,” Leon said.

For more information, visit


Posted on: 7/11/2013


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