Before the Seattle deal was announced at the end of August, the California-based grilled chicken chain, El Pollo Loco, also announced plans to expand into South Louisiana.

El Pollo Loco’s recent deal

Recently, El Pollo Loco, the restaurant chain known for its fire-grilled chicken, was in the news for signing a deal to develop four restaurants in the Pierce County and South King County areas of metro Seattle.
The four restaurants will be owned and operated in partnership with Jean-Paul Pirio, who already has restaurants and bars including JP's Tap Room, Time Out Ale House, and Hy Iu Hee Hee throughout the south Puget Sound area. It is believed that lease agreements for the sites have not been signed yet. As per news reports, apart from parts of Washington, El Pollo Loco is also looking at other target markets throughout the United States for expansion. The latest deal is in sync with the restaurant chain's plan to expand its presence in the Pacific Northwest by attracting more partners.

More about the partnership

The chief development officer of El Pollo Loco, Brian Carmichall, said that the decision to partner with Pirio was taken after considering his experience. As per news reports, Carmichall said, "He is an experienced restaurateur and we are honored to partner with such a well-known individual in the Seattle community."
Pirio responded that he had been searching for a concept based on the rich tradition that has the ability to bring people together around family, food, and culture. I found the perfect match with El Pollo Loco. "I can't wait to introduce locals to the brand's signature chicken, handcrafted Mexican entrees, and healthy menu offerings," he said.
He also added that he has spent his entire career in the Restaurant Industry and was looking to move to different franchise opportunities when he decided to partner with El Pollo Loco.
He said that he has been eyeing sites in Federal Way, Kent, Tacoma, and Puyallup and will be focusing on developing the upcoming restaurants in these locations.
El Pollo Loco and Pirio are confident of the success of their partnership, as can be seen by the statement given by Carmichall. "El Pollo Loco's business model and partnering with a seasoned pro like Jean-Paul is a winning combination, and we are confident the new locations will thrive," he said.

Plans for new restaurants

Before the Seattle deal was announced at the end of August, the California-based grilled chicken chain also announced plans to expand into South Louisiana over the next five years. The announcement was made after Fuego Food LLC took over ownership of the Lafayette location. El Pollo Loco signed a four-unit deal with Fuego Foods, LLC, which has over 75 years of combined experience as both franchisor and franchisee for the company. Fuego Foods is also looking at other parts of Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and Lake Charles for potential sites.
As per El Pollo Loco spokesperson, Michael Misetic, the company wants to open the first New Orleans location by next year. Specific locations are yet to be identified, but El Pollo Loco plans to build upon the momentum and develop the New Orleans market, he said.
As per news reports, the company plans to incorporate new prototype designs at all the new locations, be they in South Louisiana or Seattle, which will be geared to meet the demands of the off-premise business. The new designs will include a dining room that potentially opens up to a patio area, as well as a drive-thru and designated curb side pick-up parking.
The new locations will also feature an enhanced digitized experience, which includes Pollo To Go cubbies for mobile to-go orders, digital menu boards, and GPS-enabled curb side pick-up, which will be integrated with the company's mobile app.

The famous El Pollo Loco fire-grilled chicken

El Pollo Loco is a restaurant chain in the United States famous for its fire-grilled chicken marinated in citrus, garlic, and spices. The restaurant chain also has healthier menu items other than fast food items, such as chicken bowls, burritos, and salads.
The chicken is marinated in-house daily with a recipe of garlic, citrus, and spices, grilled over an open flame, and hand-cut to order. The grilled chicken is the basis for many dishes, including individual or family chicken meals, bowls, burritos, and salads. The brand is known for its flavorful menu items that fit into many dietary regimes, such as calorie counting or keto.
The restaurant chain recently announced new additions to their value meals section by rolling out deals such as the Shredded Chicken Quesadilla combo and the Family Feast menu, which starts at $24.
Chief Marketing Officer, Andy Rebhun, said that the new offering were to draw in customers who appreciate a good deal. With schools reopening, the new additions are targeted at harried parents, as the chain puts in all the work to provide them with freshly prepped ingredients and mouth-watering fire-grilled chicken, he added.

How is El Pollo Loco holding up?

As per the latest balance sheet report, El Pollo Loco Holdings had liabilities of $295.5 million as compared to $34.3 million in cash and $15.4 million in receivables. The company has a low net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.11. And its EBIT easily covers its interest expense. But one needs to keep an eye on how much of that EBIT is backed by free cash flow. As per Restaurant Industry experts, El Pollo Loco Holdings' ability to cover its interest expense with its EBIT and its net debt to EBITDA is an indication that it can handle its debt. The experts are a bit cautious about El Pollo Loco Holdings' use of debt.

El Pollo Loco plans for future

As per reports, the company has plans to open three to six new restaurants owned by the company and six to ten new franchised locations with a capital expenditure of $20.0 - $25.0 million USD.
The company also plans to use TV and social media channels in the near term to promote value-oriented messaging for its Restaurant Operations and has already started with promotions of the Family Feast, which includes eight pieces of chicken, a large avocado family-sized salad, two large sides, four churros, flour or corn tortillas, or chips and salsa for around $25.
The company also recently hired a Vice President of Digital Marketing to coordinate the digital and social media efforts, as it believes social media will be a key medium for messaging. The restaurant chain is also planning a complete revamp of the mobile app and website, which will be completed by early 2023. The investment will enable the brand to upgrade and unify the consumer experience on the website and app and also enhance the loyalty program, as per Larry Roberts, Chief Executive Officer.

Know more about El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco is the name of two independent restaurant chains specializing in Mexican-style grilled chicken founded by Juan Francisco Ochoa. Ochoa's 50 restaurant locations in Mexico are still owned and operated by the Ochoa family. Around 500 locations in the United States, primarily in the Southwestern states, are company-owned or franchised restaurants.
El Pollo Loco is known for its L.A. Mex food, a blend of traditional Mexican cuisine and Los Angeles' better-for-you eating concept. Since 1980, El Pollo Loco has had company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana.