- Maria Hollandsworth, a Dunkin’ regional VP of operations and formerly VP of strategic initiatives and operations services at Jack in the Box, will join El Pollo Loco as chief operating officer on Oct. 31, the company announced Monday.
- El Pollo Loco is pursuing an asset-light growth strategy that depends on good relationships with franchisees, CEO Larry Roberts said in the press release.
- Roberts succeeded Bernard Acoca as El Pollo Loco’s CEO this spring, following a five-month period in which Roberts served both as interim CEO and CFO.
El Poll Loco recently signed agreements for franchising in Seattle, Redding, California, and Chico, California, as well as parts of Oregon, and the opening of its first restaurant in Denver in September, according to its Q2 earnings call. Hollandsworth’s decades of experience in franchisee leadership positions could help attract more multi-unit operators and lead existing franchisees to expand.
Leadership at the VP-level and above are now required to spend one day per quarter visiting restaurants with a senior company operator or a franchisee, Roberts announced during the Q2 call. This standard could help Hollandsworth evaluate what kinds of franchisees are the best fit for the company’s operational needs.
“Maria’s expertise in driving operational excellence, as well as her deep knowledge of franchisee relations and management, will be paramount as we strive to accelerate the growth of the EL Pollo Loco brand,” Roberts said in the press release.
Outgoing El Pollo Loco COO Miguel Lozano announced his impending retirement in June. When Hollandsworth enters this role, she will oversee a number of efforts to modernize the chain’s operations. Since Acoca announced a company rebrand in 2018, El Pollo Loco has also expanded its digital channels, developed restaurant designs that emphasize off-premise througput, and has tested drone delivery with Flytrex.