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El Pollo Loco winging its way to Duke City

A rendering of an El Pollo Loco restaurant. (Courtesy of El Pollo Loco)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Popular California-based chicken restaurant El Pollo Loco has set its sights on Albuquerque with plans to open multiple locations in the next few years, according to the company.

The move into Albuquerque is a part of a national expansion that includes other markets like Denver and Colorado Springs, said Brian Carmichall, El Pollo Loco chief development officer.

“While franchise agreements and leases have yet to be signed, Albuquerque is one of a very small handful of previously untapped markets being strategically targeted for expansion,” he wrote in an email.

A news release announcing the expansion said there are plans to open as many as eight restaurants in Albuquerque over the course of five years, with each roughly 2,400-square-foot location employing as many as 50 people.

Carmichall said the company plans to sign a franchisee to begin development this year with construction beginning shortly after.

Founded nearly 50 years ago, El Pollo Loco specializes in fire-grilled chicken that is “hand cut to order” and served in tacos, burritos, salads and other menu items.

The new locations will be modeled around two new restaurant concepts. One concept will forgo a dining room in favor of a focus on carry out and drive-thru orders. The other will feature a smaller dining area and a larger patio.

El Pollo Loco operates more than 470 locations across the country with most based in the Southwest, according to the news release.

Carmichall said that as a part of the expansion, the company is looking for interested franchisees. The cost to own a franchise runs between $770,000 and $2,097,000.

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