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El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco is a Los Angeles-based fast-casual chain known for its citrus-marinated, Mexican-style grilled chicken. As the fourth-largest fast-casual Mexican restaurant in America, El Pollo Loco distinguishes itself from the competition as a healthier alternative to other Mexican chains and is known for its salsa bars.

El Pollo Loco was founded in Mexico in 1975 by Juan Francisco Ochoa. The company opened its first United States location in Los Angeles in 1980. In 1983, Denny’s acquired the chain and continued its expansion in the United States, though Ochoa continued to operate the restaurant under the same name in Mexico.

In 1987, the company was acquired by TW Services when TW Services purchased Denny’s, Inc. American Securities Capital Partners acquired El Pollo Loco in 1999 and sold it in 2005 to Trimaran Capital Partners. In 2014, the company went public on Nasdaq.

Most recently, El Pollo Loco leaned heavily into convenience technology investments and new store prototypes during the pandemic, including three restaurants of the future designs that emphasized digital experiences.

Key Data: El Pollo Loco

Headquarters: Los Angeles, Calif. 

Segment: Fast Casual 

Restaurant Segment: LSR Mexican

Number of US locations: 475

2020 Sales: $799.2 million

Annual Growth:

Source: Datassential Firefly 500

CEO: Bernard Acoca