Driven by two new restaurant designs that cater to off-premise dining, El Pollo Loco is eyeing Colorado as part of its next wave of expansion.
Company plans call for opening 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.
The announced expansion is part of a broader growth initiative that expects to see the 478-unit chain open 140 new restaurants in select DMAs throughout the Western United States by 2026.
According to Chief Development Officer Brian Carmichall, American consumers are eating with an ever-expanding perspective on freshness and health, while shifting their dining behavior away from on-premise business. This change in behavior and new lifestyle adaptation, coupled with El Pollo Loco’s focus on fresh ingredients, will no doubt contribute to the brand’s development plans.
“We are excited to grow our footprint and bring El Pollo Loco's signature chicken, handcrafted Mexican entrees and assortment of healthy offerings to new communities,” says Carmichall. “The expansion announcement and impending unit growth is sure to appeal to the growing number of consumers looking for healthier options; consumers’ growing demand for bolder, spicier flavors; and experienced franchise owners with the desire to be part of a strong franchisee family.”
In addition to El Pollo Loco’s nearly 50-year history and fiercely devout following, the expansion will be driven by two recently unveiled prototype designs geared to meet the demands of the company’s off-premise business.
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.