The big news last week in the world of Hispanic commerce surrounded Pizza Patrón's announcement that it would begin accepting Mexican pesos at all 59 stores in the United States. Despite the fact that accepting pesos is not uncommon at many businesses near border towns in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California — or that Pizza Patrón is unique because its stores extend as far north as Nevada and Colorado — the real story is not the pesos, but the traction.
Since its announcement Jan. 8, Pizza Patrón has received significant local, national and even international exposure in the press. From the El Paso Times to USA Today to South Africa's Independent Online; all major networks and affiliate stations, from Oregon to North Dakota to D.C.; CNN, the Fox News Channel; and countless blogs. Naturally, all U.S. Hispanic TV and print covered the event.
The coverage caught the company by surprise. "We sent out a press release just like we always do with a new program, and at best, we hoped to be picked up by the restaurant industry trades," said Andrew Gamm, director of brand development for the Dallas-based chain. "Never in our wildest dreams did we expect it to be picked up like this."
The Dallas Morning News wrote a story over the weekend, and by Monday morning there were news crews at Pizza Patrón stores in every market, Gamm said. "The overwhelming majority of the news has been extremely positive," despite some non-Hispanics blasting the Hispanic-owned chain — that claims a majority of its clientele to be Latino — for catering to a perceived unwillingness to integrate into U.S. society.
Still, the exposure is paying off. "People who had never heard of us are getting to know our brand," Gamm said. "We've had a ton of franchise inquiries."