It takes pluck to open a polleria in Centennial

Mark Manger
Pollo a la brasa at La Polleria.
Quick! Name a Peruvian food.

Chances are you named ceviche -- raw, citrus-marinated fish. But Bob Van Diest is hoping that will soon change. A year and a half ago, Van Diest and his family opened La Polleria, a small restaurant in Centennial serving another type of authentic Peruvian fare: rotisserie-style chicken.

Unless you've been to Peru, you wouldn't associate pollo a la brasa with the country. But Peruvians do, and Van Diest knows that -- not because he's from there (he was born in Kansas) but because he's married to a Lima native, and because over the past three decades he's earned plenty of frequent flyer miles traveling back and forth.

See also:

- La Polleria, a Peruvian chicken house, will open next week in Centennial
- Photos: Taita Peruvian Cuisine & Bar
- Best Nouvelle Peruvian Restaurant: Limon

"I added up the time on my passports, and I've spent right about three years in Peru," he says. And on every trip, he eats pollo a la brasa "at least six or eight times."

Though the idea of opening his own polleria occurred to him decades ago, it wasn't until recently that he had the resources to do so. So after years of selling residential real estate in Denver - he's lived here for 33 years - Van Diest and his wife, Rosario, and sons Ryan and Jason, decided to take the plunge. Consulting with Peruvian friends who own a handful of pollerias in Peru, Bob made a trip to procure the special oven and opened his place in September 2011 in a shopping center not far from his house.

Sure, it stands out amid the other chain restaurants. But "we thought it was time for different ethnic restaurants to be somewhere where people can be more in the proximity of their own home," he explains. And while he adds that Denver's Peruvian population "might not be centered around our location, they do patronize us for sure."

Find out what they'll find in Centennial for when my review is posted here tomorrow.

Location Info

La Polleria

7422 S. University Blvd., Littleton, CO

Category: Restaurant

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It definitely does take pluck to open a polleria in Centennial!  I hope he's very successful, and I'll certainly check the place out.  I live in Greenwood Village, and I'll admit that most of the residents around here aren't very adventurous.  I suppose you find pockets of those sorts of diners everywhere though.  There was a commenter in the article on Aurora restaurants who won't try any restaurant in the state's third most populous city because he's irrationally frightened of being "carjacked or shot."

There's no getting around that chains dominate the south suburbs.  We do have some great ethnic fare though.  Just along Arapahoe road, for example, you'll find Pho Lee and Pho Saigon which would hold their own with any place on Federal; India's Castle, which is as good as any Indian food in the metro area (there's a great Indian grocery in the same strip mall); and Sahara, which does great authentic Moroccan and Lebanese.  The latter has been there for 20+ years, so someone must be going.

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