The national chicken sandwich rush hit hard on the new Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen in Delta Township.
Popeye’s new chicken sandwich quickly became popular and sold out nationwide within two weeks of its release to the public. The Delta Township restaurant, which opened earlier this year, outsold the four Michigan sister stores owned by the same franchisee.
“Day one, a few people bought it, but they were not really interested in it,” said Lyric Banks, a restaurant worker at the Delta Township Popeye’s. “It did not really hit us until a few days later.”
It did not take much to make the sandwich a popular sensation. Eric Bristow, the general and training manager for the Popeye’s in Delta Township, said it was social media that caused the increase in popularity.
“It all blew up because Chick-Fil-A made a comment over social media, Popeye’s made another comment back, and I guess that started the little chicken sandwich wars,” Bristow said.
Customers rushed to try the sandwich. The menu item was expected to last much longer than it did.
“The chicken sandwich was the best chicken sandwich ever. It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen that many people run to Popeye’s for chicken sandwiches,” said Dalia Galal, a customer service employee.
“We did roughly 40 sandwiches the first day. The second day, it doubled. By the third day, we were at 200 and by the fourth day we were doing 800-plus,” Bristow said. “My employees sat here and fought it out with us.”
The customers would place large orders and have to wait an hour for it to be ready because other customers did the same thing and it would cause some people to get upset, Banks said. This was not just hard on the customers, though.
“I know I was kind of going crazy but I kind of adjusted to it. Everybody kind of adjusted to it,” Banks said.
The Delta Township restaurant is the fifth location owned by Popeye’s franchisee Percy Bean, who also has restaurants in Battle Creek, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Muskegon.
“We were so happy and excited when we saw this amount of people come to our restaurant. We work hard to give our customers everything,” Galal said.
According to Bristow, Delta Township’s Popeye’s was short-handed, at times, during this rush. On those occasions, employees that worked earlier shifts would anticipate how busy it was going to be. Those employees would volunteer to stick around past their shifts to continue to help out.
“Right here on West Saginaw, most of the people out here understand,” Bristow said.
Other food chains, such as KFC and McDonald’s, have also recently come out with a chicken sandwich menu item with potential hopes of competing with the Popeye’s sandwich craze while it’s unavailable.
“Nobody can beat Popeye’s chicken sandwich,” Banks said.
Popeye’s is not going to advertise the popular sandwich when it makes its return to the public according to Bristow. Instead, it will be done by word of mouth.
“It’s going to come back harder than before,” said Galal.
It will no longer be a limited edition item and become a regular menu once it makes its comeback. The sandwich’s return date is not known.