Instead of a bacon cheeseburger, try a TropiChop — Marathon is getting a Pollo Tropical restaurant and Key West is getting one, too.
In an effort to give Middle and Lower Keys residents and visitors a “fresh alternative,” Wendy’s franchisee Sam Nekhaila is about to transform his Marathon restaurant at mile marker 50 bayside into one of South Florida’s most popular fast-food restaurants.
In Key West, he said several spots are under consideration, but the Caribbean chicken joint is going in at the former Wendy’s in Marathon for sure. He hopes to have the conversion done by late spring or early summer and have both restaurants ready to open later this year.
The Marathon Wendy’s took a beating during Hurricane Irma in September and was slated for a full remodel, but Nekhaila’s plans changed.
“I think down in Marathon, we need a fresh new concept and Pollo Tropical is extremely well-received in South Florida,” Nekhaila said. “It’ll give a nice alternative to the customers that are in Marathon by offering a different menu, especially for families.”
Pollo’s family dinner package includes a whole grilled chicken and four sides. For the TropiChop, pick a base like lettuce or rice, then pick a protein and top it off with black beans, corn or other vegetables. There are also chicken sandwiches, quarter chickens and half chickens that are fire grilled.
“It’s all cooked right there in front of the customer on a large grill and made to order, so it’s always nice and fresh — high quality,” Nekhaila said.
As for the 35 people who worked at Wendy’s before the Category 4 hurricane, some are still working for Nekhaila at the two Wendy’s restaurants in Key West and will be given the option to work at the new Marathon Pollo Tropical. Hiring will start mid-year, he said.
The building itself is empty and has been “cleaned and preserved for now,” he said.
According to the website, brothers Larry and Stuart Harris opened the first Pollo Tropical in Miami in 1988. Since 2016, 29 new restaurants have opened in Florida, Georgia and Texas under the direction of Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219