Tampabay.com:

Here’s something you don’t see every day: a fast food chain dolling itself up like a more expensive, sit-down casual restaurant.

Pollo Tropical is punching up its Tampa Bay menu with more choices and outfitting stores with silverware and dinner plates, a sangria dispenser by the register and even a form of table service.

“Our customers in research told us our food is better than fast food, so we’re trying to match the dining experience to the food quality,” said Kim Miller, marketing director of the 91-store Miami chain that’s a fixture with 67 outlets in South Florida but adapting to fit in everywhere. “Food looks and tastes better eaten from plates with silver.”

The bay area was chosen for the test because its population is closer to a microcosm of the United States. And its Hispanic population — which includes a large proportion of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans commonly seen in other big markets — is more diverse than South Florida, which is dominated by Cubans and South American immigrants. Read more.

Photo: Kathleen Flynn | Times.