El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. is using Hispanic Heritage Month to tout more than tacos.
The Costa Mesa-based restaurant chain (Nasdaq: LOCO), best known for its grilled chicken, launched a new brand campaign in anticipation for the annual heritage month. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, it will be focused on encouraging its customers to explore Mexican-American cuisine beyond tacos, using its founding family’s roots to navigate its media storytelling.
The Ochoa family who started El Pollo Loco transformed their previous shoe store to the restaurant in Sinaloa, Mexico and later moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to open the first U.S. location. The chain now has over 485 restaurants in the country with the very first store still open on Alvarado Street.
El Pollo Loco Holdings is currently valued at around $325 million. It is the fifth-largest restaurant chain based in Orange County, with 2021 systemwide revenue of $973 million. About a tenth of its restaurants are in OC.
The #MoreThanTacos campaign will involve a variety of content creators chosen by the company to spread the message that the Hispanic roots and culture of the restaurant’s food go beyond the stereotypical taco plate.
El Pollo Loco is also using TikTok in the campaign by partnering with several Hispanic influencers on the mobile app to create videos.
El Pollo Loco currently has 141,600 followers on the app sporting over 3 million likes on its videos.
“Making a very intentional effort to address the fixed view that many people have of Mexican and Hispanic food is an important step in opening up conversation about the richness and diversity of the Hispanic community while spotlighting the many other dishes and flavors that are worth exploring and inform the menu at El Pollo Loco,” Vice President of Digital Gabe Alonso said in a statement.
Another shift in the company’s strategy to mark the month will be foregoing its annual National Taco Day promotions to commit to the current marketing.
Details on El Pollo Loco’s alternative plans will be announced in the next few weeks.
The El Pollo Loco team took to downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 13 to mark the month’s theme of diversity with many of its TikTok partners at the city’s new museum, LA Plaza Cocina. The displays are dedicated to the history of Mexican food and include stories of local families who provided to the exhibit.
El Pollo Loco Chief Executive Larry Roberts spoke to the history of the restaurant and the fire-grilled chicken recipe that began the 42-year business before introducing Alonso to discuss the #MoreThanTacos campaign.
The evening’s menu was developed by Chef Gilberto Cetina, who shared he was influenced by his grandmother’s recipes.
“We’re exploring the depth of Mexican cuisine,” Cetina said before demonstrating and preparing a few dishes from across Mexico for guests.
Head Chef Heather Gardea was also there to accompany Cetina in explaining the chosen “antojitos,” or appetizers.