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California chicken restaurant goes 'crazy' with 15 new Houston locations

California chicken restaurant goes 'crazy' with 15 new Houston locales

El Pollo Loco exterior
El Pollo Loco will soon unveil its new store designs. Courtesy of El Pollo Loco

A California-based chicken chain sees Houston as its next growth market. El Pollo Loco plans to open 15 new locations across the Houston area in the next few years, which would more than double the chain's presence in the Bayou City.

Known for its Mexican-style chicken that uses a citrus marinade and is grilled over an open flame, El Pollo Loco also serves a range of other Mexican-inspired dishes that are made with fresh ingredients. The chicken gets utilized in tacos, quesadillas, burritos, bowls, and more. A section of the menu offers options for those following keto and other low-carb diets.

“We are thrilled to continue developing our presence in Houston and bring El Pollo Loco’s signature chicken, handcrafted Mexican entrees, and assortment of healthy offerings to even more local communities,” chief development officer Brian Carmichall said in a statement. “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.”

Part of the restaurant's growth will be fueled by two prototype designs that have been created to meet the growth in off-premise dining. The first doesn't offer any indoor seating; instead, it features a take-out window, a dual drive-thru, parking for curbside pick-up, and patio seating. The second has a small indoor dining area with a larger outdoor patio, dual drive-thru, and curbside pickup spaces. Both build-outs aim to take advantage of the growth in ordering via the company's app. 

Expanding its presence in Houston is just one aspect of the company's growth strategy. Currently at approximately 500 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana, El Pollo Loco plans to add 140 new stores by 2026, according to a press release. 

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Teresa Gubbins contributed to this article.