Fire-grilled chicken chain El Pollo Loco has signed multi-brand franchise group AA Pollo Inc. to a 20-restaurant development agreement. It’s the first step in a multi-year franchising initiative designed to expand the chain’s presence in the greater Southwest.

As part of the agreement, AA Pollo Inc. will develop 20 new El Pollo Loco restaurants in Houston, a new development market, and San Antonio. The franchisee company has also purchased six El Pollo Loco restaurants in San Antonio. AA Pollo Inc. is owned by Anil Yadav, who owns and operates more than 260 restaurants within three brands, most of which are Jack in the Box, covering multiple states.

In Houston, El Pollo Loco has identified an initial 80 trade areas for potential restaurant development over the next several years. Additionally, the company currently has more than 20 sites across the greater Houston area in various stages of negotiation for company operation.

In addition to Texas, El Pollo Loco has targeted further expansion in California, Nevada and key contiguous new markets. The brand, which went public this summer, anticipates growth of 8 percent to 10 percent per year.