Some shopping-center visitors complained about the smoke.
  • Some shopping-center visitors complained about the smoke.
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“We just lost their main flagship,” said Mr. Robinson, a resident who lives one block away from the Pancho Villa supermarket at 3245 El Cajon Boulevard.

Robinson said he is “bummed out” by the pollos al carbon (barbequed chicken) stand that recently stopped grilling in the parking lot.

Shopping carts occupy the former grill space.

“That stopped two weeks ago [approximately February 5],” said John, the deli manager of the supermarket. He said they had been grilling outside for six months but had to stop because some of the nearby residents (33rd and Felton streets) were complaining about the smoke.

Robinson recently purchased a house on the same block that John referred to and joked that the barbecue aroma was a selling point. He said that most of the new neighbors who greeted him in real life and on nextdoor.org also lamented the chicken stand’s absence. “But then there was that one person on the thread,” Robinson said.

The thread on nextdoor.org, titled “grilled chicken Poncho [sic] Villa,” posted on February 16, sought to find out why the place shut down. Of the replies, one mentioned how “it may help to think of how warm and fuzzy those who made it happen feel as they enjoy the pride of having done their part to save the planet.”

Another North Park resident said, “the wind usually blows towards the east in the PV (Pancho Villa) parking lot sending the smoke towards the Wells Fargo Bank and the houses across the street on 33rd Street, so my guess is the complaints came from that direction. That grill was going for hours every single day for months so if the neighbors got fed up, it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

“My customers complained about the smoke,” said Linda, who works at Hair Cut Plaza, which is also next door to the supermarket. “They get sick of the smell.”

Some say the chicken inside isn't as good.

“People [from other businesses] are jealous,” said Elias Zerihune, who works at Ultra Gas across the street. “There were always lines waiting for that chicken. I waited 15 minutes — it was so good.”

Pancho Villa manager Ben Butterfield said there were “elements that challenged” their pollos al carbon operation but there is a possibility that the grills will come back out.

The market offers pollo grilled inside ($8.99 for a whole chicken), but, “The chicken [grilled] inside is not the same,” said Paula Reyes, who is a sales rep at the Boost Mobile store next door. She said that she and her coworkers agree that the outdoor “charcoal-cooked chickens” were juicier and fresher. “Tell them to bring it back.”

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