Some other features:
Retail as theater: The back of house where El Pollo Loco grills chicken will be fully on display through an enlarged window in the drive-thru lane. So customers can watch the food cooked and prepared while waiting in their cars.
Pick-up cubbies: Customers can opt to go fully contactless and get their mobile to-go orders from designated cubbies inside the restaurant.
GPS-enabled curbside: El Pollo Loco rewards members will have expanded access to GPS-enabled curbside pickup on the mobile app. When they arrive, restaurants will receive alerts to bring out the food as quickly as possible.
Outdoor seating: The extension will feature a covered patio.
“The future is now. We’re excited to roll out our evolved restaurant concept, which brings us to the culmination of the company’s three-year transformation agenda and sets us up for geographical expansion in the years ahead,” said Bernard Acoca, president and CEO, in a statement. “This will be the catalyst to eventually get us back to 5 percent annual new unit growth across the U.S.”
In Q3, same-store sales returned to positive at 1.8 percent for the brand. That included a 0.2 percent increase at company-owned stores and a 3 percent bump at franchises. The slight growth in corporate same-store sales comprised an 18.1 percent rise in average check, offset by a 15.2 percent decrease in transactions.
Seventy-three percent of company stores are in Los Angeles, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Comparatively, only 47 percent of franchised stores are in the area. Outside of L.A., the rest of the system rose 6 percent in the third quarter.
El Pollo Loco earned $111 million in revenue, compared to $112.1 million last year. The chain also delivered a restaurant margin of 22.4 percent, which is the highest it’s seen in two years.
To the growth topic, the chain temporarily halted company unit growth, it said in Q3, and doesn’t anticipate any new franchise openings in Q4. Acoca said between three to five corporate openings would take place in 2021 as well as a higher output of franchise openings after seeing only two in 2020.