Huntington Beach, California-Charo Chicken, entering its 20th year of business, has embarked on a doubling of the delivery specialty brand's 11-store presence in Southern California while introducing a new look and refined operations under president and chief executive Ray Perry, a veteran senior executive of Hardee's, El Pollo Loco, Straw Hat Pizza and other regional and national chains.

Of the 11 existing units, four are corporate operations and the rest are franchises. Since the arrival of Perry, Charo has changed the single-unit selling strategy to award a minimum of three-unit and a maximum of five-unit area development deals to experienced restaurants. On Perry's watch, the company has signed up 11 franchisees, who plan to launch 44 stores by 2008. Among the newly signed operators is a limited-liability company in which Charo Chicken will be managing partner for four stores, to be built over the next two years. "Then we will go into our own [corporate-store] development," Perry explained.

Existing Charo Chicken units average about $800,000 in annual sales, but Perry said he aimed to raise that to $850,000 at new sites. Lunch check averages range from $7.50 to $8.50 per person, and delivery tickets at night average about $23. Home deliveries account for an estimated 40 percent of Charo's sales. -Nation's Restaurant News