With one restaurant already opening and operating in the Bayou State, in Lafayette, El Pollo Loco, Inc. is set to expand its Louisiana footprint. The nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken chain recently signed an agreement for the development of four new restaurants in the southern part of the state over the next five years.
The agreement has been signed with Fuego Foods, LLC, whose leadership team possess more than 75 years of combined experience on both the franchisor and franchisee side of the El Pollo Loco business. The group, which has also taken over ownership of the existing restaurant in Lafayette, is eyeing other parts of Lafayette, as well as Baton Rouge and Lake Charles for potential sites.
“We’re thrilled to continue developing El Pollo Loco’s presence in Louisiana and bring even more of the brand’s signature chicken, handcrafted Mexican entrees and assortment of healthy offerings to various markets,” says Fuego Foods’ Phong Huynh. “The expansion and future unit growth is sure to appeal to the growing number of consumers looking for healthier options and demand for bolder, spicier flavors.”
Brian Carmichall, Chief Development Officer of El Pollo Loco, comments, “Louisiana is a great market for our continued growth and a good fit for the brand. Fuego Foods’ extensive experience with our brand, understanding of customer satisfaction and commitment to premium quality in all aspects of the business are a winning combination.”
Carmichall also noted El Pollo Loco’s intentions to open restaurants in New Orleans and the company’s ongoing search for “experienced franchise owners with the desire to be part of a strong franchisee family.”
The new restaurants will introduce one of El Pollo Loco’s two new prototype designs geared to meet the demands of the company’s off-premise business. Both 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.
One version caters to off-premise sales with a drive-thru, walkup take-out window and convenient parking for curbside pick-up. To maximize sales per square foot, it boosts only patio seating and has no indoor dining room. The second prototype will have a dining room that opens up to an expansive patio. This format will also feature a drive-thru and designated curbside pick-up parking.
Each restaurant will occupy approximately 2,400 square feet of real estate and employ as many as 50 people.
As for the menu offering?
At El Pollo Loco restaurants, the chicken is marinated in-house daily with 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 or family chicken meals, bowls, burritos 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 Louisiana 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 483 existing restaurants with the new prototype designs and develop 140 new restaurants in select markets such as California, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington.