Why You Might Start Seeing More Popeyes Around

For a humble purveyor of fried poultry, Popeyes has appeared in a slew of headlines in recent years. It all started with the infamous chicken sandwich wars, which gave way to a lawsuit from an angry customer who sued the chain for "false advertising" after they sold out of said chicken sandwich, per NBC. The craze over the coveted menu item is even associated with a homicide, as a man fatally stabbed another customer for allegedly cutting him in line at a Maryland Popeyes, PennLive reports. 

But for all the controversies that have hit the Louisiana-style chicken chain, Popeyes is still drawing in more traffic than ever, thanks in large part to that chicken sandwich, which "generated about $400,000 more per restaurant" when it was first introduced in 2019, according to Forbes. For example, last year saw the first Popeyes location in the U.K., per Time Out, part of an international expansion that comprised hundreds of new locations. The development was clearly a success, because the chain announced this week that it plans to open more than 200 more stores in the U.S. and Canada this year, CNN reports. Popeyes is matching its growth spurt with drive-thru glow-ups and some other major announcements, making this one of the chain's most significant expansions to date. 

The new Popeyes locations are all about efficiency

Per Restaurant Dive, Popeyes' 2022 expansion will include a cluster of restaurants in New York City, one of which will be a Times Square flagship that sounds like the golden child of the chain's teched-up newcomers. Set to open in June, the location will be similar to Popeyes' renovated Canal Street flagship in New Orleans with its elevated design, branded merchandise, self-serve kiosks, and "two-story food transporter" that CNN describes as "some type of 21st-century dumbwaiter." 

Popeyes' other upcoming locations may not have as many fancy amenities, but half of them will feature something that could never exist in the middle of a crowded metropolis: double drive-thrus. Restaurant Dive reports that the two-sided lanes are meant to serve more guests in less time. Also on the efficiency front, the chain will test out an updated kitchen setup later this year in Lafayette, Indiana, which will include a new food-prep station meant to speed up order fulfillment.

Restaurant Dive adds that the chain's expansion will go beyond its 200-plus locations in North America to bring inaugural outposts to countries like South Korea, France, India, and Romania, plus growth within existing Popeyes markets in China, Spain, Brazil, Vietnam, and beyond. Reports CNN, a representative of Popeyes' parent company said that these developments are "just scratching the surface on opportunities for Popeyes."