El Pollo Loco, Inc. is making good on its previously announced plans to expand throughout Metro Denver. The nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain recently inked a multi-unit franchise agreement with Pikes Pollo, Inc. to develop four restaurants on the city’s West side.

The franchise group, whose partners are already longtime successful operators of three El Pollo Loco restaurants in California, plan to open their first two West Denver locations in Arvada and Littleton. They’re eyeing Westminster and Lakewood for the other two.

The expansion announcement comes a little more than a year after El Pollo Loco announced plans to open 10-15 restaurants in metro Denver and as many as five others in the Colorado Springs area over the next five years. Each restaurant will occupy approximately 2,400 square feet of real estate and employ as many as 50 people. 

“We are pleased to announce this development agreement with Pikes Pollo and about the opportunity to grow the El Pollo Loco brand into Colorado,” says Brian Carmichall, El Pollo Loco’s Chief Development Officer. “Pikes Pollo has a strong track record of running excellent restaurants and we are confident they are the right franchise group to align with as we move forward with our strategic growth and development plans. We continue to actively search for successful, enthusiastic business leaders, like the Pikes Pollo team, to increase our brand presence across Colorado and in the Rocky Mountain region.” 

The West Denver restaurants will feature a new El Pollo Loco prototype design geared to meet the demands of the company’s off-premise business. Included in the design will be a dining room that opens up to an expansive patio, as well as a drive-thru and designated curbside pick-up parking.

The prototype will also feature 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.

As for the menu?

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 individual and family chicken meals, tacos, burritos, bowls and salads. The brand is well-known for a range of flavorful menu items that customers feel better about eating because they are healthier than typical fast food and fit into a host of dietary regimes ranging from calorie counting to keto. 

“The Denver area is an amazing community and an ideal fit for El Pollo Loco as the brand continues to strengthen its roots and expand. We look forward to bringing the excitement of El Pollo Loco to the area,” says Al Amiri, President of Pikes Pollo. “The strong reputation of El Pollo Loco, combined with our experience with the brand in California, makes this agreement a natural fit for us.” 

The local expansion announcement comes at a time when El Pollo Loco is aggressively looking to expand its national footprint with existing and new franchisees. Over the next few years, the plan is to remodel more than 300 of the brand’s 481 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 481 restaurants in six states, with 293 of those owned and operated by franchisees.

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