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El Pollo Loco names Bernard Acoca CEO

El Pollo Loco names Bernard Acoca CEO

Starbucks veteran replaces Steve Sather, who is retiring

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. has named Bernard Acoca its new president and CEO effective March 12, the company said Wednesday.

Acoca will succeed Steve Sather, who has led the company since 2010 and announced his retirement last year. Acoca also will take Sather’s seat on the company’s board of directors.

Acoca most recently was president of Teavana, Starbucks’ tea brand, where he oversaw the 375 specialty retail stores, which Starbucks has since closed. However, Acoca also oversaw the distribution of Teavana products to some 26,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.

Prior to that he was Starbucks’ senior vice president for marketing and category for the Americas.

He also was chief marketing officer for the Americas for L’Oréal and spent 10 years in marketing roles at Yum! Brands, parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

“I am thrilled to lead the El Pollo Loco organization and eager to build upon the brand’s success,” Acoca said in a statement. “El Pollo Loco represents an authentic differentiated brand, serving made-to-order fresh citrus-marinated grilled chicken and entrées every day, every meal.  I look forward to strengthening that unique positioning, and to driving sales and profits as we cultivate relationships with both new and existing customers.” 

Michael Maselli, chairman of the chain’s board of directors, praised Acoca for his experience.

“Bernard is a seasoned executive with over twenty-five years of experience, including sixteen years at leading restaurant companies Starbucks and Yum! Brands,” he said. “With a long and proven track record of driving sales and profit growth through new product development, brand communications, and integrated go-to-market strategies, Bernard brings significant strategic, marketing, operational and digital expertise to the role of CEO.  As El Pollo Loco embarks on its next chapter of growth, we are confident that Bernard’s skill set, experience and passion for the brand make him the ideal person to lead this Company into the future.”  

El Pollo Loco, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., has more than 470 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

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