Here's What Happened To The First-Ever Popeyes Restaurant

When it comes to popular fried chicken joints in the U.S., Popeyes is a staple from coast to coast. But before it became the fried chicken megahouse it is today, Popeyes was born in Louisiana. According to the official Popeyes website, the first-ever Popeyes was opened by Alvin C. Copeland Sr. in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi in 1972.

Before it was called Popeyes, the restaurant was called Chicken on the Run, but it wasn't a big success. Fortunately for Copeland, the renaming of the restaurant plus the addition of spicy fried chicken helped make Popeyes a favorite among locals. By 1976, Popeyes began expanding to multiple locations. Today, Popeyes has over 3,700 storefronts around the world, with more opening up each year (via Restaurant Dive.)

As Popeyes celebrates its 50th anniversary, it's easy to forget that the chain was once a single restaurant in the suburbs of New Orleans. Youtuber NOLADeej recently took to the streets of Arabi to track down Popeyes original location. As NOLADeej shows viewers, the appearance of the original restaurant is a far cry from the Popeyes storefronts that most fried chicken fans know today.

The original Popeyes is easy to miss

If you were walking along the street in Arabi, chances are good that you'd overlook the first-ever Popeyes entirely. That's because there's hardly anything left of the original. From NOLADeej's video, it's clear to see that all that remains of this important piece of Popeyes history is a foundation and old flooring. Further, the latest Google Maps capture of the property taken after the Youtube video was filmed shows the former restaurant's foundation encircled by a chain link fence and private property signage.

Popeyes has moved on from its singular location to global chain status, and it's possible that its original location wasn't great for business anymore. But the crazy thing? As NOLADeej walks around the original Popeyes, he claims he can smell the distinct odor of fried chicken. Whether this is a simple trick of the mind, a leftover scent from the other restaurants who inhabited the space after Popeyes vacated it, or truly a remnant of Popeyes spicy fried chicken is hard to say. Regardless, there's no doubt that the legacy of Popeyes will forever be rooted in this otherwise unassuming plot within a New Orleans suburb.