Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits (sometimes named Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen or Popeyes Chicken & Seafood; often referred to as just Popeyes) is a chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants, owned since 1993 by the Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises (originally America's Favorite Chicken Company). 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 1,800 restaurants in more than 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 20 countries worldwide including Turkey, China, Hong Kong, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Panama. About thirty locations are company-owned, the rest franchised.
Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken first opened in Arabi, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, in 1972 as "Popeye Family Fried Chicken", owned by Al Copeland. As the company's official 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 began franchising his restaurant in 1976, beginning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and added approximately five hundred outlets over the next ten years. 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. In 1989, Popeyes, then the third-largest chicken chain, merged with Church's Chicken, the second largest, though parent company AFC Enterprises operated the two chains separately. On December 29, 2004, AFC sold Church's to Arcapita (formerly Crescent Capital Investments), retaining Popeyes.
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 March 23, 2008, Copeland died from a malignant salivary gland tumor.
Copeland claimed he named the stores after the fictional detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in the movie The French Connection and not the comic 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 comic character with its sponsorship of the "Popeye & Pals" children's show in New Orleans, and the character appeared on items from packaging to racing boats.
Popeyes serves chicken products in mild, and spicy flavors. Popeyes offers sides such as Cajun fries, mashed potatoes, and Cajun rice in regular and large sizes. All combo meals come with a biscuit.
The restaurants have a distinctive red-and-yellow color scheme. 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. The original and other older 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.
I've come to love Popeye's since I first ate it back in the late 90's. There's just something about their blend of Cajun spices that go in their chicken that brings out such a flavor that no other place can offer. The New Orleans Spicy chicken is the best, whether it be regular pieces or the chicken strips, and I quite like their crawfish when they sell it (between October-December).