El Pollo Loco, the nation’s leading grilled chicken franchise with 364 locations, has promoted five members of its management team who helped the growing chain open 26 new locations last year and who have key roles in the company’s national expansion strategy.

The new positions are integral to the company’s continued expansion, including 30 new units set to open nationwide by the end of this year and a pipeline of development agreements for locations in California, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Georgia, Illinois, Virginia, Missouri, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

John Phillips was promoted to Vice President of Franchise Restaurant Opening Group (FROG), a strategic program that supports new franchisees throughout the El Pollo Loco expansion process. Mark Hardison was promoted to Vice President of Marketing; Julie Weeks to Vice President of Communications; Patsy Estis to Vice President of Human Resources; and Mark Landouw to Director of Operations Services.

“Rewarding members of our team who demonstrate remarkable leadership in achieving results fanatically consistent with our goals is part of the El Pollo Loco culture,” says Steve Carley, CEO of El Pollo Loco. “The promotion of these talented professionals recognizes their outstanding contributions to our organization and establishes a solid foundation upon which we can continue our quest for nationwide expansion.”

El Pollo Loco heightened its franchise expansion plans in 2005 with the introduction of a new restaurant prototype, designed to have broad demographic appeal and flexibility to drive development outside of its core West Coast market. Last year, El Pollo Loco continued its growth with the opening of nine company-owned and 17 franchised restaurants, including new restaurants in Chicago and Connecticut.

“We expect to open approximately 10 company-owned restaurants and 20 franchised restaurants in fiscal 2007,” Carley says. “The company openings will be in our core greater Los Angeles and Las Vegas markets, while our franchise openings are expected to occur in up to 12 different states.”

Phillips will continue building the company’s nationally recognized FROG program. In 2005, El Pollo Loco announced the creation of FROG to support new franchisees during the expansion process. FROG is comprised of a cross-functional group of restaurant professionals that serve as the key contact for new franchisees, from the time a development agreement is signed through the opening of a franchisee’s new restaurant, including site selection, supply chain, construction, training, marketing, public relationsm, and operations.

Hardison, an inspirational brand champion, will lead development and implementation of the company’s marketing initiatives, including dual-language advertising campaigns and market-specific media strategies, to grow comparable restaurant growth. Additionally, Hardison will play a pivotal role in building awareness and trial of El Pollo Loco as the company expands across the U.S.

Weeks will transform the company’s vision and strategic plans into internal and external communications that effectively reach El Pollo Loco employees, stakeholders, and the press. She oversees corporate communications, public relations, and media relations and will play a key role in seeding awareness of El Pollo Loco in new markets as the company expands across the nation.

Estis is responsible for championing a high performance, people-oriented culture, translating and executing El Pollo Loco’s strategic business plans into Human Resources programs that cover the areas of health & welfare, staffing, compensation, corporate employee relations, policy development and documentation, HR data management, and office services.

Mark Landouw is the conduit for information to the company’s restaurants from all areas of the company and plays a vital role in leading the flawless execution of all initiatives involving implementation at the restaurant level.

News, El Pollo Loco