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The Popeyes® Story
In 1972, in New Orleans, Al Copeland opened a quick-service restaurant by the name of “Chicken on the Run.” It was an appropriate name because in a few short months, this chicken was…run out of town.
It seems you can’t sell ordinary fried chicken in a city known for big flavor. Al realized very quickly that if he was going to impress the flavor-loving people of New Orleans, he needed a recipe with some spice to it. And since he was already experimenting with a Cajun chicken recipe, he decided to try it again with a brand-new chicken and a brand-new name.
So in June of 1972, Popeyes opened its first door in a suburb of the Crescent City, and Al had a winner on his hands. His new, slow-marinated chicken was just what those flavor-loving people of New Orleans were hungry for, and Popeyes was off and running.
Over the next dozen years, we opened our first franchise in Louisiana, we created “Love That Chicken from Popeyes®,” and we opened our first international location in Toronto.
In 1985, there were 500 Popeyes locations in the U.S. Popeyes was a national player. And we proved it in 1987 when we beat Churches and KFC in a nationwide taste test…and Popeyes launched America’s Fried Chicken Champ — the spicy taste that can’t be beat.
By 1989, there were nearly 700 Popeyes, including locations in Canada, Asia and Central America. And three years later, Popeyes entered a whole new era of growth when America’s Favorite Chicken Company moved its brand headquarters to Atlanta.
1997 marked the 25th anniversary of Popeyes and the return to our Cajun roots. We celebrated with a new restaurant design and menu to reflect our New Orleans heritage. Over the next decade, the awards really rolled in. Among them: Nation’s Restaurant News MenuMasters Award, Entrepreneur ranked us as the number-one chicken franchise, and we won the gold Choice in Chains Award.
In 2008, we decided to remind the world that Popeyes has a whole lot of Cajun in its blood. That year we changed the whole look of the brand with a style that emphasized our Louisiana culinary roots. Convinced that truly great-tasting food requires slow preparation, Popeyes called out its Louisiana heritage.
And then in 2009, we kicked off a national advertising campaign featuring a real-life spokesperson with an attitude. Annie, of course, is our sassy, intelligent, mad-truth speaker with a personality that lets her tell it like it is about our unmistakably authentic taste.
In 2010, Wicked Chicken won Nation’s Restaurants News MenuMasters award, and Popeyes BONAFIDE® Chicken beat KFC®’s Original Recipe® in a national taste test. And we told the world about it with a huge event in Times Square, a full page ad in USA Today and more national television.
2011 marked the opening of Popeyes 2,000th restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, and we created our highly successful new Rip’n Chick’n and Dip’n Chick’n. But the real excitement is happening for our restaurant guests as we start to bring it all together with our brand-new LK plus design…bringing that authentic Louisiana feel to our restaurants.
So here we are, 40 years from when it all began, with over 2,000 restaurants in the U.S. and around the world. We are in a position of leadership. We have a loyal, growing fan base that is hanging on every word Annie says. We have fresh, new ideas behind us and a lot more ahead of us.