The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 29, 2013

Wally Kennedy: Popeyes has built a loyal following

JOPLIN, Mo. — Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen opened its new restaurant at the northwest corner of 22nd Street and Range Line Road on Wednesday. When I saw that, I thought I would stop and check it out, but the traffic was too heavy.

Getting in the way of people in their quest for food is something I try to avoid.

I went back on Friday for lunch. I managed to find a spot on the parking lot, but the congestion inside of the restaurant was even worse than the congestion outside. About 20 people were standing in line to place their orders.

Said one woman: “You thought it would be better to come inside. So did we.’’

Apparently there is quite a following for the fried chicken and shrimp that Popeyes offers.

But there is more to this than just fried chicken and shrimp. In the days leading up to the opening, I received telephone calls from people who wanted to know exactly when the restaurant would open. One guy told me the fried chicken was not the main attraction for him. He wanted the Louisiana-style red beans and rice. Another caller said he just wanted their biscuits.

I chatted briefly with a gentleman on the parking lot who said he was a partner in the restaurant. He and his partner, who are from Northwest Arkansas, recently obtained the franchise for Popeyes in Southwest Missouri. He said the opening of a new Popeyes in Springfield last year set a company record for opening sales. He said the opening in Joplin has been so hot that it could be a contender for that title.

“We don’t expect it to go on like this forever. It will settle down,’’ he said.

As the restaurant was being constructed on a site previously occupied by an Arby’s, the partners decided to purchase a lot on the west side of their property to expand their parking lot by seven spaces. Those seven spaces certainly came in handy for the opening. Eventually, the part of the lot not used by the restaurant will be used for offices.

 Here’s a little background on Popeyes. It’s a chain of fried chicken restaurants founded in 1972 in Arabi, La., a suburb of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish. According to a company news release, Popeyes is the second-largest “quick-service chicken restaurant group, measured by number of units,’’ with more than 1,800 restaurants in more than 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 21 countries.

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