The 2008-present logo
Popeyes is an American multinational chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since 2008, its full brand name is Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and it was formerly named Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits and Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken & Biscuits. It is currently a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International.
According to a company press release dated June 29, 2007, Popeyes is the second-largest "quick-service chicken restaurant group, measured by number of units", with more than 2,600 restaurants in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 30 countries worldwide, after KFC. About thirty locations are company-owned, the rest franchised.
Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken was first opened in Arabi, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish, on June 12, 1972, as "Chicken on the Run", owned by Al Copeland to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken. As the company's history states, they sold "traditional mild fried chicken [but] business was slow, and the chicken team realized they'd have to sell a spicier alternative to their standard chicken recipe if they wanted to impress flavor-seeking New Orleanians. Copeland started franchising his restaurant in 1976, beginning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and over the next ten years added approximately 500 outlets. B.P. Newman of Laredo, Texas, acquired various franchises in Texas and surrounding states. Two hundred additional locations were added during a period of slower expansion.
By 1990, Copeland Enterprises was in default on $391 million in debts, and in April 1991, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. In October 1992, the court approved a plan by a group of Copeland's creditors that resulted in the creation of America's Favorite Chicken Company, Inc. (AFC) to serve as the new parent company for Popeyes and Church's. AFC went public in 2001 with initial public offering (IPO) of $142,818,479. On December 29, 2004, AFC sold Church's to Arcapita, formerly Crescent Capital Investments, retaining Popeyes.
On June 17, 2014, Popeyes announced it had re-acquired full control of its seasonings, recipes, and other proprietary food preparation techniques from Diversified Foods & Seasonings, which remained under the control of Al Copeland and his estate after the creditor sale of Popeyes to AFC. Popeyes had continued to license the seasonings, recipes, and techniques from DF&S for a yearly 'spice royalty', before buying them outright for $43 million. DFS will remain the main supplier for Popeyes until at least 2029.
As of 2017, Popeyes has over 2,600 restaurants worldwide according to its website.
Alvin C. Copeland claimed he named the stores after the fictional detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in the movie The French Connection and not the comic and cartoon character Popeye the Sailor. Copeland would claim facetiously that he was "too poor" to afford an apostrophe. The chain later acquired rights to use Popeye the Sailor for marketing. The company's early brand became deeply tied to the cartoon star with its sponsorship of the Popeye & Pals children's show in New Orleans, and the character appeared on items from packaging to racing boats. In late November 2006, AFC announced the mutual termination of their licensing contract with King Features Syndicate, effectively ending their association with the Popeye characters.
On February 21, 2017, Restaurant Brands International announced a deal to buy Popeyes for US$1.8 billion. On March 27, 2017, the deal closed with RBI purchasing Popeyes at $79 per share via Orange, Inc, an indirect subsidiary of RBI.
Popeyes serves chicken dishes in mild and spicy flavors and offers sides such as red beans and rice, Cajun fries, mashed potatoes with Cajun-style gravy, and Cajun rice. As well as fried chicken, other entree items include a chicken-and-sausage jambalaya and po' boy sandwiches. Most combo meals come with a side order, drink, and a biscuit. On October 30, 2006, AFC announced that Popeyes planned to introduce a trans fat-free biscuit as well as french fries containing one gram of trans fat by year-end. On November 18, 2011, AFC announced that Popeyes is releasing a Fried Turducken sandwich that will show off the first ever Turducken patty just for the Thanksgiving holiday. On July 29, 2013, AFC in conjunction with their Popeyes brand, released a special entree of fried chicken strips dipped in waffle batter, which was already a proven success in some markets. For a limited time only in 2017, Popeyes offered "Sweet and Crunchy" chicken, fried chicken tenders coated in shortbread cookie breading.
The restaurants have a distinctive red-and-yellow color scheme. The original locations had a black lava rock exterior with a red shingled roof. Most older locations have covered the rock exterior to conform with the current yellow stucco appearance. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company occasionally licensed characters from the Popeye comic strips to use in their advertising. TV and radio ads often use New Orleans-style music, along with the trademark "Love That Chicken" jingle sung by New Orleans funk and R&B musician Dr. John.
In 2009, Popeyes introduced "Annie the Chicken Queen", a fictitious, upbeat, African-American Popeyes chef. The character is meant to be "honest, vibrant, youthful and authentic" according to Dick Lynch, Popeyes Chief Marketing Officer. "Everyone has a relative or a good friend who will give it to them straight, and that's what the Annie is all about", Lynch said.
Popeyes maintains a "Hall of Fame" of its franchise holders. Among the inductees is Morgan W. Walker, Jr. (1928–2008), originally from Alexandria, Louisiana, who held a franchise in the Washington, D.C., area from 1979 to 2007. Some international franchises, such as the ones located in Germany, France, and Japan, are only located on U.S. military installations and are generally not accessible to the local civilian public.