El Pollo Guapo Co-Owners Heather and Roy Riedl spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about their business growth and plans to continue takeout to keep the community well fed.

NAN PRICE: Front Street in Hartford is your second location. Why Hartford?

HEATHER: With the food truck, we’d been a regular visitor in Hartford, but our goal had always been to have some sort of presence downtown. We wanted to have roots in Hartford where we could really feel like part of the community, contribute to the community, and be involved in Hartford’s revival. We opened our Hartford location in December 2018.

ROY RIEDL: When we opened our first El Pollo Guapo restaurant in Wethersfield in June 2017, the location and concept were chosen based upon the food truck. It was to create a commissary from the truck. Wethersfield was easily accessible to Hartford, where we did a lot of our business. With Hartford, we wanted to expand on the brand and hire more people within the community. So, our goal was creating more jobs and more opportunities.

HEATHER: We received a job creation grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which was another huge motivating factor for us to be in the city of Hartford. We knew we were going to provide jobs, but it was great to have the support of the city and know we were accountable to hire and create full-time jobs for at least 15 people.

ROY: Honestly, we weren’t really ready to open in Hartford, but the opportunity was there. Clearly, we were meant to be able to move into that spot, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the DECD and the fact that the location was already built out.

NAN: And you have a third location in Glastonbury.

HEATHER: Yes, we opened in November 2019. Hartford catapulted this location. The support we’ve gotten from the City of Hartford and from the people working and living in Hartford put us in a cashflow situation where we were able to open the Glastonbury location without needing to get funding from outside sources.

NAN: How has the pandemic impacted your business?

HEATHER: We’ve modified our hours and we are open for takeout from all three locations. We’re grateful for our customers and happy to keep some of our staff employed.

Find out more about Heather and Roy’s entrepreneurial journey and business evolution at Innovation Destination Hartford.

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