El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. in Costa Mesa has signed a franchise development deal with Listo Way Group LLC to enter the Louisiana market.

This is El Pollo Loco’s first restaurant beyond the Southwest region, where the company has about 450 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

Franchise operator Jason Trotter plans to open two restaurants in Lafayette, La., by 2018.

Trotter has prior restaurant industry experience and is a former franchisee of the fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant company Zoës Kitchen. He opened and operated five restaurants in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana between 2006 and 2015.

The franchise fee for one El Pollo Loco is $40,000. It costs between $900,000 and $1.8 million, excluding real estate, to open a location.

The restaurant franchisor and operator is the No. 3 OC-based restaurant chain. It had 2015 systemwide sales of $753 million and employs 750 locally and about 5,200 companywide.