El Pollo Loco is expanding its partnership with DoorDash, adding doorstep delivery of its fire-grilled chicken to more than half of its 470 restaurants.
The expansion comes less than a year after the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company launched a pilot program at 98 restaurants in its core Southern California market, as well as Las Vegas and Nevada. On Tuesday, 180 more restaurants began offering delivery in six other U.S. markets including participating locations in Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Ariz., San Diego, the Bay Area (San Francisco and San Jose) and Sacramento.
Unlike other delivery partnerships, El Pollo Loco has tapped DoorDash for dispatch services only. Customers can order food through the chain’s website or El Pollo Loco app. Ordering is not available through the DoorDash platform.
During the initial pilot phase of the program, El Pollo Loco tested other delivery operators. In September, the chain chose to work exclusively with DoorDash.
“Delivery has been a major focus for us as we continue to better connect with our customers and provide them with a high-quality, convenient and differentiated dining experience,” Ed Valle, Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement.
El Pollo Loco is jumping into delivery later than most limited-service rivals. Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill, Irvine-based Taco Bell and Carlsbad, Calif.-based Rubio’s Coastal Grill offer delivery directly through apps such as DoorDash and Postmates.
Integrating delivery and curbside pickup is crucial in the quick-service industry as a new generation of diners look for speedier options when ordering restaurant meals.
According to market research firm The NPD Group, delivery now represents 1.7 billion foodservice visits annually. Young adults — a generation fast-food companies are eager to please — are driving sales. Young adults represent 56 percent of foodservice delivery orders, according to NPD.
Warren Solochek, president of NPD’s Foodservice Practice division, said if delivery fits an operator’s business model then “they definitely need to add it on as an option in order to stay competitive.”
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