US-based fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain El Pollo Loco has appointed Elizabeth Williams as its new CEO, effective from 11 March 2024.

Williams will also join the board of directors, succeeding Maria Hollandsworth who has been serving as the interim CEO since November 2023.

Hollandsworth will take on the role of president and continue her duties as chief operating officer.

Williams is known for her experience in leading high-growth, multi-unit retail, restaurant and service businesses.

She comes to El Pollo Loco from Outfox Hospitality, where she held the position of CEO. Her previous leadership roles include positions at Drybar and Hart House.

From 2010 to 2020, Williams spent a decade with Yum! Brands and Taco Bell where she held leadership roles, including that of chief finance officer and president of Taco Bell International.

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She was responsible for the brand strategy, growth and performance of the international business across 30 countries and brought operational improvements along with sales and profit growth.

El Pollo Loco Board chairman William Floyd said: “We are excited to welcome Liz Williams as our new Chief Executive Officer.”

“Throughout her career, Liz has demonstrated her ability to accelerate growth in food and beverage brands while simultaneously improving financial performance. We believe she has the skills and experience necessary to lead El Pollo Loco as we capitalise on the significant opportunity ahead of us.

“We would also like to express our deep appreciation to Maria for her leadership as interim CEO over the past three months. We are excited to benefit from her continued leadership as she helps craft and execute our strategic vision as president and chief operating officer of El Pollo Loco.”

Williams commented: “I am truly honoured to join El Pollo Loco and be named Chief Executive Officer of this one-of-a-kind brand. El Pollo Loco’s fire-grilled chicken and high-quality, fresh ingredients create a better-for-you brand that is unparalleled in the restaurant industry. I believe that the opportunities to accelerate the growth of our brand are substantial.

“While the company was born in Mexico over 40 years ago and has become an iconic West Coast brand, I believe we are just getting started. I look forward to working with the company’s exceptional management team, our team members, suppliers and franchise partners as we execute our strategic vision and write the next chapter for El Pollo Loco.”

El Pollo Loco is known for its signature citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and handcrafted entrées that draw inspiration from traditional Mexican recipes.

The company operates an extensive network of 490 restaurants across US states, including Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado and Texas.

In December 2023, the restaurant announced the relaunch of two of its Double Pollo Fit Bowls for the New Year.

The Classic Double Pollo Fit and Street Corn Double Pollo Fit bowls will be available for a limited time.