El Pollo Loco, a restaurant chain specializing in Mexican-style grilled chicken, has launched a new grant program to bolster Latina-owned small businesses in Los Angeles.
The company announced the program in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which this year has taken on a special resonance as Latinx-owned businesses struggle to stay open amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"Usually Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for celebration, but this year we felt it was a time for reflection. But more importantly a time for action," Bernard Acoca, president and CEO of El Pollo Loco, told Cheddar. 
Two-thirds of Latinx-owned businesses are saying "they will have to cease operations given the current economic environment today," he added. "Quite honestly, we couldn't let this stand." 
So now El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 grants to 10 Latina-owned small businesses, with hopes of driving additional business and fundraising to these companies. 
"El Pollo is funding the first $100,000 as part of this grant program, but we really want to encourage the general public to join us," said Acoca, who directed those interested in supporting the businesses visit the company's GoFundMe page.  
For every $10,000 it raises, he added, El Pollo Loco can save another Latina-run business. 
In addition to the grants, El Pollo Loco partnered with small business aggregator #WeAllGrow Latina to develop the first Latina-owned business directory and offer mentorship services to companies struggling to adapt to the COVID era. 
"So many of them have been challenged in having to kind of adapt their business to a new way of operating, certainly in Los Angeles where so much of the economy has been shut down by the pandemic," Acoca said. 
To that end, El Pollo Loco itself has been thriving amid the pandemic, introducing a new line of "L.A. Mex Burritos" inspired by the company's hometown.