El Pollo Loco is making good on its plans to expand throughout parts of the Western United States. The nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain recently inked a multi-unit agreement with TWS Restaurant Corporation to develop nine restaurants in Northern California.

The franchise group, which already owns and operates 27 El Pollo Loco restaurants in the region, is committed to opening the new locations exclusively in the Bay Area and Sacramento. Leases have been signed for two of those locations, with one of them already under construction. All nine restaurants are expected to open by 2031. 

“The Bay Area and Sacramento are amazing communities and an ideal fit for the El Pollo Loco brand as we continue to strengthen our roots and expand in Northern California,” says TWS Restaurant Corporation owner Manuel Perales. “We’re thrilled to open more restaurant doors in the community and are proud to have the opportunity to provide a fun, family-friendly dining experience where locals can enjoy El Pollo Loco’s signature citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and fresh, authentic menu offerings.”

Perales is hardly a newcomer to the El Pollo Loco franchise system. He spent more than a decade on the company’s corporate side, working in such roles as assistant manager, district manager, supervisor of training, operations coordinator and franchise consultant, among others. He became an El Pollo Loco franchisee in 2000, and has since come to own and operate 27 restaurants throughout the Bay Area, East Bay and Sacramento.

“Manuel and the TWS Restaurant Corporation team have been a remarkable asset to our company and have played an integral role in driving our growth,” says El Pollo Loco Chief Development Officer Brian Carmichall. “This talented group is exactly the kind of franchisee with which we prefer to align ourselves as we continue to expand into new and existing markets.” 

The new restaurants will feature El Pollo Loco’s new prototype designs geared to meet the demands of the company’s off-premises 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. 

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 California, 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