What are you, El Pollo Loco -- chicken?

The fast-food chain pulled its IPO off the table on Thursday. Saying the current market environment made it "inadvisable to proceed with the offering at this time," the company that specializes in flame-grilled citrus-marinated chicken will wait it out before going public.

Really? The market has been pretty sharp lately. Didn't the Dow just hit a fresh new high? And if we're going to talk about the performance of fast-food IPOs, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) has been one of the big hits of 2006. Sure, Burger King (NYSE:BKC) hasn't set the market on fire, but the company has had some pretty unique challenges.

Besides, one wouldn't expect a company with the ticker symbol LOCO to be anything short of fearless. I'm guessing it's more than just the market conditions. As popular as the Mexican-born concept may be, investors have been burned in the past by rotisserie chicken chains like Cluckers, Pollo Tropical, Kenny Rogers, and Boston Market.

Also, even though the 347-unit El Pollo Loco concept may still have room to grow beyond its Southwestern stronghold, the company was barely profitable in 2004, before reporting a loss of $11.8 million last year.

In short, El Pollo Loco was no Chipotle, which had stellar earnings growth coming to a delicious crescendo just as McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) was looking to spin off the chain. It's perhaps telling that McDonald's doesn't have much of a shot at taking its Boston Market appendage public anytime soon.

So let's not blame the market here. The water's just fine by most accounts. As long as you're not Vonage (NYSE:VG), there's always room for El Pollo Loco in the open marketplace. Just make sure that your 2006 results are worth clucking about before giving it a go again.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz lives in Miami, where citrus-spiked flame-grilled chicken chains are a dime a dozen. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.