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El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco
Big lines today for El Pollo Loco 2-chicken freebie.

El Pollo Loco seems to have won Round 1 in the initial battle of the birds contest with KFC.

While all was quiet yesterday when KFC was giving away its free grilled chicken, I’m hearing reports today of long lines at El Pollo Loco restaurants in Orange County. The Costa Mesa-based chain is giving away two pieces of chicken (a leg and thigh) until 8 p.m. today.

The offer is good for dine-in only, so don’t bother getting in a drive-through.

I just got back from an El Pollo Loco in Orange, where the parking lot was jammed as cars tried to find a spot. To control lines inside the restaurant, customers were forced to wait outside. Still, my store seemed to be prepared. I got in and out within 15 minutes.

While waiting for my meal, I chatted with Jacob, Brenda and Miguel Alvarado. The family (shown above) didn’t know about the deal, but was happy to take advantage.

“We lucked out,” said Miguel.

El Pollo Loco said the chain was “thrilled” with the popularity of the Taste the Fire event, an expensive marketing tactic aimed at deflecting buzz away from KFC’s new grilled chicken.

“It’s all hands on deck today in our restaurants and we expect to be able to handle the crowds,” El Pollo Loco spokeswoman Julie Weeks said.

In case restaurants run out of chicken, which is not likely, Weeks said restaurants are prepared to issue “rain checks” just in case.

Tip: For $1, El Pollo Loco will add a small side or small drink to your Freebie Meal today.

Baskin-Robbins freebie alert: Don’t forget: On April 29, Baskin-Robbins will offer customers a 2.5 ounce scoop of ice cream for 31 cents. Deal good from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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