Just a few months after announcing plans to enter the Denver marketplace with as many as 15 restaurants over the next five years, El Pollo Loco, Inc. is making good on its intentions. The nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain recently signed two separate development agreements for eight of those restaurants. The deals include four units each on the east and west sides of town. 

The franchise partners are experienced El Pollo Loco operators:

  • LMU Investments, LLC, whose partners already own 18 El Pollo Loco restaurants throughout California and Utah, will open four restaurants exclusively on the east side of Denver. Their first restaurant will be located in Peoria, Colorado and is expected to open in 2022.
  • Pikes Pollo Inc. will open their four restaurants in West Denver. The partners currently own four restaurants in Southern California.


“These agreements will further expand our footprint in key target markets throughout the Western United States, as well as mark the brand’s entry into the Denver market,” says El Pollo Loco Chief Development Officer Brian Carmichall “Our growth would not be possible without franchisees like LMU Investments and Pikes Pollo, who continue to demonstrate their high level of confidence in El Pollo Loco by bringing our brand and products to life each and every day.”

Carmichall adds, “This exciting franchise development is a reflection of our Acceleration Agenda, our strategic plan for ongoing national expansion through franchising. The success of our better-for-you menu combined with our new L.A. Mex restaurant design has continued to attract experienced multi-unit operators interested in our growing brand.”

The new design provides a flexible format to meet the needs of the individual site or neighborhood. One version has no indoor dining room. Instead, it caters largely to off-premise sales with a take-out window, a dual drive-thru, parking for curbside pick-up, and patio seating. The second prototype will have a smaller-than-typical dining room that opens up to an expansive patio. This format store will also feature a dual drive-thru and curbside pick-up parking spaces. 

Both prototypes share an enhanced digitized experience – including “Pollo To Go” cubbies for mobile to-go and delivery orders, digital menu boards and GPS-enabled curbside pick-up, all integrated with the company’s dynamic and versatile mobile app. 

While the look may be different, the vast and diverse menu will remain the same. 

At El Pollo Loco restaurants, the chicken is always fresh, never frozen, marinated in a proprietary recipe of citrus, garlic and spice, fire-grilled over an open flame and hand-cut to order. The freshly grilled chicken serves as the base for an authentic selection of dishes, including family chicken meals, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls and salads. The Pollo Fit section of the menu also offers low-calorie, vegan and even keto-certified options for followers of the keto diet. 

The local expansion announcement comes at a time when El Pollo Loco is aggressively looking to expand its national footprint. Over the next few years, the plan is to remodel more than 300 of the brand’s 478 existing restaurants with the new prototype designs and develop 140 new restaurants in select DMAs throughout Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington.

The initial investment to own and operate a single unit is estimated between $770,000 and $2,097,000, which includes a franchise fee of $40,000. 

Today, El Pollo Loco has 478 restaurants in six states, with 282 of those owned and operated by franchisees.

Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, El Pollo Loco