Where Was the First Popeyes? A Brief History of the Iconic Fast Food Chain

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, also known as Popeyes, is a well-known fast-food chain with a fried chicken focus. The eatery is renowned for its biscuits, Cajun-style sides, and crispy, spicy chicken. Many individuals might not be aware of the first Popeyes restaurant’s location or the company’s history as the current global brand.

According to the official Popeyes website, Alvin C. Copeland Sr. founded the first Popeyes in the Arabi neighborhood of New Orleans in 1972.

Chicken on the Run was the original name of the establishment, but it wasn’t very popular.

The restaurant’s logo also includes a cartoon sailor resembling the movie character, and Copeland later changed the name to Popeyes in honor of Popeye Doyle from “The French Connection.

Popeyes has expanded from its small origins to become a global brand with more than 3,000 stores across more than 25 countries.

Spicy chicken, shrimp, and sides like red beans and rice, Cajun fries, and mac & cheese are all featured on the restaurant’s distinctive New Orleans-style menu.

Popeyes manages to draw customers in while facing fierce competition from rival fast-food companies thanks to its vibrant flavors and Southern charm.


Popular fast food company Popeyes is well-known for its fried chicken and biscuits.

In 1972, Alvin C. Copeland Sr. launched the first Popeyes restaurant in the Arabi neighborhood of New Orleans. “Chicken on the Run” was the initial name of the establishment, but it proved unsuccessful in drawing diners.

The restaurant was then rebranded as “Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken” by Copeland. The character Popeye Doyle from the film “The French Connection” served as the model for the new name.

Customers loved the restaurant’s new name and logo, so Popeyes immediately opened up shop in other parts of Louisiana.

The first Popeyes franchise was sold in 1976, and by 1984, there were more than 500 Popeyes restaurants spread out over the country.

When America’s Favorite Chicken Company (AFC) bought Popeyes in 1992, the restaurant chain went public. Popeyes has since opened outlets in more than 30 nations as it has expanded overseas.

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Cajun Fries, and Red Beans and Rice are some of Popeyes’ most well-known menu items today.

In recent years, the franchise has garnered attention for its social media activity and marketing initiatives, including the well-known “Chicken Sandwich Wars” with rival Chick-fil-A.

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In 1972, the first Popeyes restaurant opened in Arabi, Louisiana, and the business soon started to spread across the entire country.

There were more than 500 Popeyes restaurants open nationwide by the 1980s’ conclusion.

After opening its first international site in Toronto, Canada, in 1984, Popeyes started to grow globally in the 1990s. Today, Popeyes operates more than 3,000 outlets across more than 30 nations.

The franchising system used by Popeyes has been a major contributor to its growth. Over 90% of the company’s restaurants, according to its website, are owned and run by independent franchisees.

As a result, the business can grow quickly without having to pay the full expense of opening and running new sites.

Popeyes has kept growing both domestically and abroad in recent years. The business declared its intention to open 1,500 new facilities in China during the following ten years in 2019.

Popeyes also made intentions to set up shop in the Philippines in the same year.

Popeyes has had certain difficulties despite growing quickly. Due to debt accrued through its acquisition of a competing fast food chain, the company’s parent company, Copeland Enterprises, filed for bankruptcy protection in the early 1990s.

However, Popeyes was able to bounce back and keep expanding, in part because of its well-liked menu items including its iconic spicy chicken sandwich.

In general, Popeyes’ franchising concept and its well-liked menu items have been the driving forces for its expansion.

It will be interesting to watch where the business opens its next site as it expands.


The menu was very different from what it is now when Popeyes initially opened its doors in 1972.

Buttermilk biscuits, red beans and rice, and spicy New Orleans-style fried chicken were on the initial menu.

Alvin C. Copeland Sr., the company’s creator, was inspired by the tastes of his hometown and wanted to share them with as many people as possible.

Popeyes has added a lot of products to its menu over the years, but the original chicken recipe has not changed.

A mixture of Louisiana ingredients is used to marinade the chicken before it is battered and cooked to perfection. A deep, smoky taste is imparted to the red beans and rice through slow cooking with smoked sausage and spices.

Additionally, the buttermilk biscuits are flaky and buttery, making them the ideal side dish for any meal.

Popeyes offers a range of sides in addition to its traditional menu items, such as mashed potatoes, Cajun fries, and macaroni and cheese.

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And Popeyes has added a variety of salads and wraps for customers seeking something a little healthier.

The Popeyes Chicken Sandwich has become one of the most well-liked dishes on the menu in recent years. On a toasted brioche bread, the sandwich is made up of a crispy chicken fillet, pickles, and a unique sauce.

There are now lengthy lineups and sometimes clashes since the sandwich has become so well-liked that many shops have run out.

In general, Popeyes’ menu has something for everyone, from traditional Southern comfort cuisine to more contemporary, healthier choices.

Additionally, there is always something new to attempt because new products are always being introduced.


Popeyes is renowned for its effective marketing initiatives, particularly the 2019 introduction of their chicken sandwich.

Following the sandwich’s social media success, practically every fast food restaurant brand, including Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, and McDonald’s, released a statement.

On August 12, 2019, a tweet on Popeyes’ Twitter feed launched the marketing campaign, which was created by the ad agency GSD&M.

The tweet said, “Chicken. Brioche. Pickles. New. Sandwich. Popeyes. Nationwide. So. Good. Forgot. How. Speak. In. Complete. Sandwiches. I mean, sentences.” It quickly gained popularity and people began chatting about the sandwich.

The sandwich’s viral success was aided by several social media marketing strategies shared by Popeyes’ CMO.

The CMO claimed that creating a sense of urgency and scarcity was essential for success. People were supposed to feel compelled to try the sandwich before it was all gone.

Additionally, they promoted the sandwich via social media influencers, which helped generate buzz. They also used humor in their advertising, which increased the sandwich’s relatability and shareability.

Popeyes has a lengthy record of effective marketing initiatives. For 35 years, the business was able to use Popeye the Sailor’s characters in its advertising, packaging, and decorations because of a deal with King Features Syndicate.

This improved the brand’s recognition and recall. Popeyes also used memorable catch phrases like “Love that Chicken from Popeyes” and “Louisiana Fast,” which have come to represent the company.

In conclusion, Popeyes has a track record of effective marketing initiatives, and the 2019 debut of its chicken sandwich was no different.

The corporation developed a viral marketing campaign that drew in the public’s attention by utilizing social media, influencers, urgency, scarcity, and humor.

Popeyes’ marketing initiatives have improved brand recognition and memorability, and its slogans have come to represent the company.

Community Involvement

Popeyes has consistently been active in the neighborhoods where it conducts business.

The business has a long history of supporting neighborhood issues, funding activities, and giving back to the neighborhood.

Popeyes supports their neighborhood by taking part in charitable activities. The business has teamed up with charities like the Boys & Girls Club, the American Red Cross, and the United Way to support various causes.

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Additionally, Popeyes has supported community gatherings including parades, festivals, and other activities on the local level.

By utilizing locally sourced foods whenever possible, Popeyes also supports neighborhood businesses.

This not only promotes the local economy but also guarantees that the food is high-quality and fresh. The business sources components for its menu items from regional farmers as well.

Popeyes encourages its staff to participate in their local communities in addition to supporting neighborhood organizations and businesses.

The business encourages its employees to take part in neighborhood events and fundraisers and provides volunteer opportunities.

In general, Popeyes is dedicated to acting as a responsible corporate citizen and supporting the communities in which it operates.

The company has ingrained itself in numerous communities across the United States and abroad through its charity contributions, support of regional businesses, and encouragement of employee involvement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where was the first Popeyes restaurant located?

The first Popeyes restaurant was located in Arabi, a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. The restaurant was opened by Alvin C. Copeland Sr. in 1972. At the time, the restaurant was called “Chicken on the Run,” but it was not successful.

Why did the first Popeyes restaurant fail?

The first Popeyes restaurant failed because it was not able to compete with other popular fast-food chains, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, Alvin C. Copeland Sr. did not give up on his dream of serving delicious fried chicken. He reopened the restaurant four days later as Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken.

What is the history of Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken?

After the failure of Chicken on the Run, Alvin C. Copeland Sr. decided to rebrand the restaurant and create a new style of fried chicken. He named the restaurant Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken after the character Popeye the Sailor Man from the popular cartoon series. The new restaurant was a success, and soon, more Popeyes locations were opened across the United States.

How many Popeyes locations are there now?

As of 2021, there are over 3,400 Popeyes locations in more than 25 countries around the world. The chain is known for its delicious fried chicken, biscuits, and sides, and has become a popular fast-food destination for people around the globe.

What makes Popeyes chicken so special?

Popeyes chicken is known for its unique blend of spices and crispy texture. The chicken is marinated for 12 hours in a blend of Louisiana-style seasonings, which gives it a distinct flavor. The chicken is then battered and fried to perfection, resulting in a crispy crust and juicy meat. Additionally, Popeyes offers a variety of delicious sides, such as red beans and rice, macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes with gravy.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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