The story of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen began in 1972 in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi, when Al Copeland opened Chicken on the Run, serving traditional southern-fried chicken. He had been working in his brother’s donut shop, Tastee Donut, but the business wasn’t doing too well, so Al decided to take a chance and open a restaurant of his own, serving fried chicken.
Alvin Copeland was born in 1944 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His family was poor, and his father left shortly after Al, the youngest of three sons was born. After a rough childhood, which saw his family living in the projects at one point, Al’s entrepreneurial spirit would begin to shine through.
Chicken on the Run was a bust, but Al was not deterred. He had a choice: go back to the donut business, or keep trying. A few months later, he changed his fried chicken recipe from mild to spicy and changed his restaurant’s name to Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken. This time, it was a hit. The restaurant did so well that Copeland opened a second location the following year, in 1973. Three years later, the chain had grown to 32 locations and sold its first non-Louisiana franchise in Pittsburgh.
The first international location was opened in Toronto, Canada, in 1984, and that was just the beginning. Throughout the following 15 years, Popeyes kept expanding. Highly competitive, Copeland bought the nation’s second-largest chicken chain, Church’s Chicken, in March 1989. But by 1992, heavily in debt, Copeland had to file for bankruptcy. He ended up losing almost all of his store locations but maintained the rights to some of the original recipes.
America’s Favorite Chicken or AFC Enterprises was created that year and took over the Popeyes and Church’s locations. Meanwhile, Copeland’s plant, Diversified Foods, and Seasonings continued to manufacture the spice mixes and biscuit mixes for Popeyes restaurants for a $3.1 million price tag each year.
In 2008, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits changed its name to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. The name change accompanied a brand overhaul, which included store remodeling efforts as well as limited-time product offerings. A year later, “Annie” was introduced, a fictitious chef and spokesperson for the chain, famous for her “tell it like it is” attitude.
Al Copeland died in 2008 from a rare type of cancer. His legacy, however, lives on. His son, Al Copeland Jr., is CEO and chairman for Al Copeland Investments, parent company to his family’s businesses, including several Popeyes restaurants, Diversified Foods and Seasonings, and a few other restaurants.
In 2017, the restaurant chain was bought out by Restaurant Brands, the company that also owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, for $1.8 billion. Today, the company has more than 2000 locations around the world, including in 25 other countries.
General Restaurant Information
Food Type: Chicken
Restaurant Type: Fast Food
U.S. Locations: 2,067
States: 49 states, Popeyes Locations
Company Slogan: Louisiana Fast
Charity Focus: Community & Animal Welfare
Contact & Ownership
Questions: Contact Information
Phone number: 877-767-3937
Email: Contact Form Only
FAQ Page: No
Who Owns Popeyes? Restaurant Brands International who is owned by 3G Capital
Headquartered: Atlanta, Georgia
Employment: Popeyes Employment Page
The History of Popeyes
Original Location: Arabi, Louisana
Founded: June 12, 1972
Founded By: Al Copeland
Name Origin: The name for the restaurant came to Al Copeland while watching the movie The French Connection, starring Gene Hackman. In one scene, Hackman bursts into a bar and shouts, “Everybody hit the wall! Popeye’s here!” (64parishes.org)
History Page: Popeyes History Page
Current View of Original Location: Coming Soon
Al Copeland and the Race for Success (knowlouisiana.org)
Al Copeland, 64; Founder Of Popeyes Chicken Chain (washingtonpost.com)
Discounts At Popeyes Louisana Kitchen
Rewards Program: Popeyes does not currently offer any reward or discount programs. Check their page for current information and promotions. Also, make sure and check out our Rewards Program Page for links to all restaurants featured on Back of the Menu.
Popeyes & Related Items on Amazon
Food & Nutrition
Menu: Popeyes Menu
Kids Menu: Popeyes Kids Menu
Most Popular Menu Item: $5 Bonafide Big Box
Coke or Pepsi: Coke
Serve Alcohol: No
Nutritional Information: Popeyes Nutrition Guide
Vegetarian | Vegan Options: Vegan Options at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Clean Eating (farm to table, organic options, non-GMO, etc.): No information found related to clean eating options at Popeyes.
Allergen Information: Popeyes Allergen Guide
Gluten-Free Options: Popeyes Gluten-Free Menu
Dairy-Free Options: Popeyes Dairy-Free Menu
Peanut Free Options: At this time, the restaurant does not offer any peanut-free allergen information on their site.
Does Popeyes Have Any Secret Recipes?
Famous Fried Chicken (topsecretrecipes.com)
Spicy Fried Chicken (themccallumsshamrockpatch.com)
Red Beans and Rice (topsecretrecipes.com)
Cajun Sparkle (topsecretrecipes.com)
Buttermilk Biscuits (topsecretrecipes.com)
Cajun Gravy (topsecretrecipes.com)
Did You Know?
The chain celebrated its ten year anniversary in 1982 by rolling prices back to what they were in 1972 for a week. (64parishes.org)
America’s Favorite Chicken Company, Inc. (AFC) bought the restaurant recipes from the Copeland family for $43 million. Previously, the company had been paying the family $3.1 million in royalties every year. (bizjournals.com)
Al Copeland also created two other successful restaurants: Copeland’s of New Orleans and Cheesecake Bistro by Copeland’s. (theadvocate.com)
Copeland became known in New Orleans for his annual Christmas display, which, at one point, had the sheriff’s office providing traffic control. He was sued by his neighbors in 1983 to remove the display as it was too disruptive. (wikipedia.org)
Copeland didn’t just own restaurants; He also owned legendary comedy club The Improv (moneyinc.com)
Dr. John, the New Orleans musician, wrote the jingle “Love that chicken from Popeyes” (moneyinc.com)
11 Things You Didn’t Know (thedailymeal.com)
How Popeyes went upscale (washingtonpost.com)
Burger King Owner Pays $1.8 Billion (fortune.com)
Popeyes & Related Items on Amazon
Food Type: Zaxby’s
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