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Years after chicken sandwich war, Popeyes to open 800 new locations

Popeyes said it reported growth in late in 2023 and early 2024 after putting chicken wings on its menu.
Years after chicken sandwich war, Popeyes to open 800 new locations
Posted at 7:19 AM, Feb 21, 2024

It's been nearly five years since Popeyes made itself a contender in the chicken sandwich war, launching a popular menu item that caused locations to run out of product and lines to form for blocks. 

While hype surrounding Popeyes chicken sandwiches has died down, the fast-food chain continues growing. Recently, the company announced a major expansion as it plans to open 800 locations by 2028, giving the chain 4,200 locations in the U.S. and Canada. 

As this expansion occurs, Popeyes hopes a new menu item could give it a leg up on the competition. In late 2023, Popeyes began selling chicken wings, a product many of its top competitors do not offer. 

The product comes with some risk, as market prices for wings have fluctuated considerably in recent years. 

The company said that initially, wings were more of an add-on product to customers' orders. But a recent Super Bowl ad has drawn more customers specifically looking for wings. 

"That was a lot of what was behind the thought of doing the Super Bowl ad because we didn't have high awareness, mass-market awareness that Popeyes had wings, and the Super Bowl is a tremendous vehicle to drive vast market awareness," said Joshua Kobza, CEO of Popeyes' parent company Restaurant Brands Inc. "And I think the Super Bowl this year was no exception. It was one of the best. I think the viewership was actually the highest ever. So we got even more bang for our buck."

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In order for stores to execute another popular menu item, Popeyes said it is implementing new kitchen layouts. The new layouts, the company says, will reduce ordering errors and decrease wait times. 

"There are really two things that happen when you improve service in restaurants. One is the customer is happier because they're getting a better experience, they're moving through more quickly. But the other is, frankly, just being able to fulfill against incremental demand," said Patrick Doyle, executive director of Restaurant Brands Inc. 

According to a late 2023 QSR report, Popeyes was the third-largest chicken chain in the U.S. for total sales, just behind KFC. The report suggested that Popeyes was on track to overtake KFC as America's second-largest chicken chain in sales, behind Chick-fil-A.

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