The Popeyes Story: How It Grew From A Small Kitchen In Louisiana To A Global Chain

The Popeyes Story: How It Grew From A Small Kitchen In Louisiana To A Global Chain

08/02/2022

The fried chicken from Popeyes, a New Orleans-style restaurant famous worldwide, is a favorite dish among residents of Louisiana. Popeyes has repeatedly demonstrated that it is a leading contender in the fast food industry, beginning with its unassuming beginnings in Arabi and eventually becoming a phenomenon worldwide. No matter what, there’s a good chance that you were aware that Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen debuted a fried chicken sandwich in 2019 and quickly became a phenomenon in fast food through the help of social media.

It was like an asteroid had hit the restaurant industry when the sandwich first appeared on the menu, and its impact was almost the same when they brought it back. Triple-digit increases in foot traffic were recorded at Popeyes restaurants as a direct result of introducing a new sandwich that attracted customers who did not typically frequent the chain’s eateries. Take a mouthwatering journey back through time to discover the development of our locally conceived but internationally renowned brand.

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How The Global Chain Was Established

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Al Copeland, the businessman who founded Popeyes in 1972, has never before put a chicken sandwich on any of the menus of any of his fast food franchises in America. The emphasis has always been on providing excellent chicken breasts, thighs, and legs, as well as a selection of sides, much like its most formidable competitor, KFC.

Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish community of Arabi was the birthplace of Popeyes, and the company’s headquarters are located there. On June 12, 1972, Popeyes, as “Chicken on the Run,” opened its doors to the public for the first time. After a few months, Al Copeland’s restaurant struggled to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Four days later, “Chicken on the run” became “Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken” and reopened under Copeland’s management. In 1975, the company was renamed Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and had been in business since. In 1976, Copeland began franchising his Louisiana-based restaurant chain.

Popeyes Rapid Growth As A Food Chain

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With rapid growth on all fronts in the 1980s, Popeyes was a time of invention and experimentation for the business. Buttermilk biscuits were first served in 1983, and crawfish were briefly included on the menu in 1989 under the slogan “Love that Chicken.” Their buttermilk biscuits will soon be accounted for 25% of the company’s overall sales by 2021. In the fast food history, these were one of the most popular menu items. Popeyes had 500 outlets in 1985, including one in Canada. Al Copeland created a company called Al Copeland Enterprises to house Popeyes and other new restaurants such as Copeland’s Restaurant during this period. Diversified Food & Seasonings, which he created in 1984, was a distributor of Popeyes’ proprietary products and seasonings.

Church’s chicken purchased Copeland Enterprises for $392 million in 1989, and the company defaulted on the loan in 1990. In 1991, the company declared bankruptcy. The court agreed a year later to the formation of America’s Favorite Chicken, Inc. (AFC), which would become Popeyes and Church’s new parent company, and AFC would be held by the creditors from whom Al lent money. However, even though he no longer owned Popeyes, Al still had some influence over the company thanks to an agreement in which his company, Diversified Foods & Seasonings, was the supplier of all Popeyes restaurants. Popeyes was required to pay several million fees each year for using Al’s patented spice blends and food preparation methods.

Battling It Out With Chick-fil-Chicken

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Popeyes saw unprecedented growth under AFC’s leadership. Due to its popularity, the business quickly expanded to countries including Malaysia and Australia. Over $1 billion in annual sales was celebrated by Popeyes in 1999. The initial public offering of AFC was $142.8 million. Despite studies saying that chicken makes more people sick, the company’s sales still did not budge. In 2008, Popeyes rebranded as Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, changing its name. The decade of the 2010s was thrilling for the Pope family’s empire. On June 17, 2014, the company paid $43 million to purchase custody of its recipes from Diversified Foods & Seasonings. Restaurant Brands International purchased Popeyes on February 21, 2017, for $1.8 billion.

To compete with Chick-fil-chicken A’s sandwich, Popeyes began selling a chicken sandwich in August 2019. Sweet Dixie Kitchen, a popular Long Beach restaurant known for selling fried chicken it had purchased from Popeyes, was the first location to serve the sandwich. Despite having some early launches in 2019, the sandwich went nationwide on August 12, 2019, to all U.S. locations. Papa John’s took to Twitter on August 12 to promote their new chicken sandwich with what appeared to be a clear snapshot of the fried, portable delight. Chick-fil-A responded precisely one week later with a passive-aggressive tweet, and the Twitter chicken sandwich wars began, with Wendy’s and other chains joining in.

McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s were among the first to respond to the new sandwich, which went viral immediately. A 103% increase in traffic was claimed by Popeyes when the sandwich was introduced. Since its launch, an estimated $23 million has been generated in free publicity for Popeyes. The sandwich was frequently out of stock, and huge queues formed at Popeyes locations. There were supposed to be enough supplies in the United States to last through the end of September. After less than two weeks, people completely sold out eateries. Popeyes said on August 27 that it had sold out of the chicken sandwich across the country just two weeks after the launch.

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Sources: Popeyes Website, Franchise Direct, Where Ya At

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