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‘Big Buddy’ thanks business owner for role in grandchild’s adoption

POSTED: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Pollo Campero owner Nora Hatchett speaks with Gov. Sonny Perdue as he holds grandson J Brown before a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning at Pollo Campero on Queen City Parkway. Hatchett assisted in the adoption of Perdue's 2-year-old grandson from Guatemala.

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Gov. Sonny Perdue came to Gainesville on Tuesday in his role as "Big Buddy," the name he is called by his grandchildren.

While speaking at the ribbon-cutting for Latin American chicken restaurant Pollo Campero, he held his grandson, J, who was adopted from an orphanage in Guatemala.

Two-year-old J, which is short for James, was excited about the whole event, as well as by the nearby train whistle that was blowing.

It’s not every day that the state’s chief executive cuts a ribbon at a fast-food restaurant. But this was special.

Nora Hatchett of Habersham County, who owns the franchise, helped rescue J from the Central American nation. He is now the son of Perdue’s daughter, Leigh Brown, and her husband, Jim, who also live in Habersham.

"Nora was a vital part of getting J, our grandson, a little Guatemalan guy who has come up here and is just a joy," Perdue said.

"For Nora to have the heart attachment to Guatemala’s people, and then bring part of their culture to Gainesville and Hall County, is pretty special."

Nora Hatchett began her work in adoption in 1996 in Russia. In 2003, she began a program in Guatemala.

"I had an opportunity to work with the governor’s daughter, Leigh, who had been a friend of mine for quite a while," Hatchett said, adding that she first saw J when he was just days old.

"He came into their family around 9 or 10 months," she said.

Hatchett no longer works in adoption, but helped place more than 200 children in homes across the U.S.

While traveling in Guatemala, Hatchett became familiar with Pollo Campero, which bills itself as the largest Latin American chicken restaurant chain.

Impressed with the philanthropic work of Juan Jose Gutierrez, the company’s chief executive, she decided to seek a franchise.

The new restaurant at the corner of Jesse Jewell and Queen City parkways offers pressure-cooked chicken and traditional Latin side dishes.

The restaurant also features grilled quarter and whole chickens on the bone and a grilled chicken Caesar salad.

The company has locations throughout Central America and expanded into the U.S. in 2002. The Gainesville location is the first store in Georgia, and Hatchett’s franchise will allow her to build up to 10 stores in the state.

Roberto Denegri, president and chief operating officer of Dallas-based Campero USA, said the concept was an immediate success in the U.S. and predicts the same will be true for the Gainesville location.

For Perdue, the trip was a family reunion of sorts. In addition to J, he was greeted by twin granddaughters Sunni and Mary Kate, J’s older sisters.



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