EL PASO, Texas — Fire-grilled chicken chain El Pollo Loco is eyeing a return to El Paso as part of its next wave of expansion.
El Pollo Loco said in a statement that it plans on opening 3 to 4 restaurants in the El Paso area over the next few years. Each El Paso restaurant would employ as many as 50 people.
The restaurant chain said the El Paso expansion is part of a plan to grow its operations in Texas, which already has 31 El Pollo Loco locations. The company said it plans to open a total of 140 new locations throughout the western U.S. by 2026; currently there are nearly 500 El Pollo Loco restaurants nationwide.
“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,” said Brian Carmichall, the restaurant chain's chief development officer.
The 50-year-old El Pollo Loco chain is known for its L.A. Mex food, which it describes as "an innovative blend of traditional Mexican cuisine and better-for-you eating, that Los Angeles is known for."
"We have a menu that has something for everyone,” said Carmichall. "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 company said its new restaurant locations in El Paso and elsewhere will be built using one of two prototype designs.
One version has no indoor dining room, instead catering to people on the go with a take-out window, a dual drive-thru, parking for curbside pick-up, and patio seating. The second prototype features a smaller-than-typical dining room that opens up to an expansive patio; this second format will also feature a dual drive-thru and curbside pick-up parking spaces.
El Pollo Loco said both of its new restaurant designs will offer enhanced technology, such as digital menu boards and GPS-enabled curbside pick-up that are integrated with the company’s mobile app.