Just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, fire-grilled chicken chain El Pollo Loco is paying tribute to its Los Angeles roots by giving back to the community. The restaurant chain has decided to restore a series of lost murals that have vanished across the city, which many believe to be one of the greatest mural capitals of the world.
El Pollo Loco is honoring defunct Latinx artwork by teaming up with Warren Brand, a curator and board member of Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, to digitally bring five murals from renowned Latino artists Juan Hector Ponce and Hector “Hex” Rios back to their original states with augmented reality filters. Through October 15, people walking by the five locations where the murals once were can scan a code with Snapchat and see what the artwork once looked like there before it was removed. “We take pride in the culture and history [of] our food, our people and the city we call home,” says Bernard Acoca, president and CEO of El Pollo Loco. “Hispanic heritage is not a moment in time, it is what has shaped who we are as a company and how we put our values into practice by serving our customers and communities.”
The five mural locations are:
- “Nuestra Gente es Linda y Poderosa”: 2841 Boulder St., Boyle Heights. The original mural was painted over by another artist, which at the time caused an uproar in the community.
- “Hex BBOY”: 417 East 15th St., downtown. Hex Rios created the mural to represent old school West Coast hip-hop music, but it was removed in 2017.
- “SK8 Still Lives”: 7753 Melrose Ave., Fairfax.
- “Migration”: 1262 South Lake St., Pico-Union
- “Zapata”: 2000 W 6th St., Westlake. The original mural was a tribute to Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata Salazar.
El Pollo Loco is also donating its own storefronts as canvases to new murals. The first mural will be painted on El Pollo Loco’s original restaurant location on Alvarado Street, which since opening in 1980 has featured an indoor mural depicting life in Sinaloa, Mexico, the childhood home of the company’s founder. Since 1980, El Pollo Loco has opened and maintained more than 480 company-owned and franchised restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Louisiana, all the while remaining true to its Mexican-American heritage. Our president may be trying to build a wall to keep our southern neighbors out, but it’s refreshing to live in a city where a restaurant chain like El Pollo Loco can celebrate its heritage loudly and proudly, livening up the city with color and brightness for all.