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El Pollo Loco has finally named a new CEO after Larry Roberts left in November.

El Pollo Loco hires former Taco Bell exec Liz Williams to be CEO, director

Current chief operating officer Maria Hollandsworth named president, COO

Costa Mesa, Calif.-based El Pollo Loco has named former Taco Bell president Liz Williams as its CEO and director, the company announced on Tuesday. Williams will begin her tenure on March 11.

The role of CEO has been vacant since Nov. 2023, when Larry Roberts left the post. He served as an advisor through the end of December. COO Maria Hollandsworth assumed the role of interim CEO during the search for Roberts’ successor.

“We are excited to welcome Liz Williams as our new CEO,” said William Floyd, Chairman of the El Pollo Loco Board in a statement. “Throughout her career, [Williams] has demonstrated her ability to accelerate growth in food and beverage brands while simultaneously improving financial performance. We believe she has the skills and experience necessary to lead El Pollo Loco as we capitalize on the significant opportunity ahead of us.”

taco-bell-co-president-liz-williams.gifWilliams, left, was at Yum Brands for 10 years, with her role culminating as president of Taco Bell International, a job she left in 2020. After that, she became CEO of the haircare brand Drybar, then served in the same position at Hart House, the vegan quick-service restaurant started by Kevin Hart. Just before joining El Pollo Loco, Williams was CEO at Outfox Hospitality, the parent company of food retail company Foxtrot.

“I am truly honored to join El Pollo Loco and be named CEO of this one-of-a-kind brand. El Pollo Loco’s fire-grilled chicken and high-quality, fresh ingredients create a better-for-you brand that is unparalleled in the restaurant industry,” Williams said in a statement. “I believe that the opportunities to accelerate the growth of our brand are substantial. While the company was born in Mexico over 40 years ago and has become an iconic West Coast brand, I believe we are just getting started. I look forward to working with the company’s exceptional management team, our team members, suppliers, and franchise partners as we execute on our strategic vision and write the next chapter for El Pollo Loco.”

Hollandsworth has been appointed president and will continue to serve in her chief cooperating officer role as well.

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