When word on the Mexican street emerged last week that the owner of an Anaheim chicken restaurant was getting busted for cockfighting, I knew which one: El Pollo Fino, the county's second-best place for Mexican-style charbroiled chicken after San Clemente's Surfin' Chicken. I wasn't privy to any insider info: It just seemed like an obvious choice, because it's the only Anaheim Mexi-chicken restaurant that matters. A couple of days later, the Orange County Register confirmed my educated guess.
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San Diego County animal services investigators raided an Escondido farm owned by El Pollo Fino's owner, his Fullerton home, and the restaurant itself. At the farm, they found and euthanized more than 800 gallos giros--roosters bred to fight--and the spurs men attach to birds for fighting. Authorities also found said knives at the man's home, and at the restaurant.
Killing the birds because of their hot-tempered blood seems like overreaching and the same logic people use to ban pit bulls, but I'll cede judgment to the animal control people. I didn't know keeping cockfighting spurs was a misdemeanor--should the owner of Chelo's Bakery in SanTana put away her bullfighting swords because she prominently displays them across her business?--but a crime on the books is a crime on the books.
What I do have a problem with, however, is authorities removing all pictures of gallos giros from the walls of El Pollo Fino. I've been eating at this restaurant for decades, and have always been struck by the eclectic art on the walls: boxers, Aztec maidens, and illustrations of fighting roosters in every artistic medium. None of the pictures displayed them fighting, however; all the ones I remember displayed them in pose, in their magnificent, colorful plumage. The authorities stripped those from the wall, according to the Register report, but didn't indicate why.
Let me be upfront: I despise cockfighting, and if the owner of El Pollo Fino did in fact fight them, he deserves whatever penalties the law demands. But to take away pictures of fighting roosters is Thought Police territory. In that case, will the El Gallo Giro chain have to change its name and its logo, as well? We'll see what the charges will say--in the meanwhile, El Pollo Fino is still open for the moment...