Few fast food chains are experiencing the growth Popeyes has enjoyed in the past four years. Since the viral popularity of its chicken sandwich in 2019, the brand has only increased its visibility, opening 200 new locations globally in 2021 alone despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Riding this wave of customer recognition, Popeyes opened its first locations in the United Kingdom last year, where it has received universally positive feedback from customers excited to get a taste of the edible Americana. Buzzfeed UK writer Victor Kunda, for example, appeared to have a religious experience trying the sandwich in his video "I Eat Everything At Popeyes," emotionally describing it as doing "exactly what [it needs] to do" while music right out of a romantic drama swells in the background.
British customers are so excited about Popeyes that the company plans to open 20 more restaurants there by the end of 2023, bringing the total number of U.K. restaurants to 31. That's a remarkably quick expansion! And according to Tom Crowley, CEO of Popeyes UK, the hype is only continuing to build.
"There is a pattern emerging now at all our openings with people queuing through the night to be the first in line on opening day."
Popeyes plans to open locations in Cambridge, Croydon, and Reading in early 2023 and will open storefronts in Rotherham, Cardiff, and Glasgow later in the year. The company will also operate new ghost kitchens in Brent Cross and Dulwich, adding to its four existing kitchens in Maida Vale, Whitechapel, Bermondsey, and Battersea.
If that wasn't enough, the chain has just announced that it will open its first U.K. drive-thru next year. It will likely be located at Parkgate Shopping park in Rotherham, with plans for more.
Crowley went on to say that, "Consumer demand has been high for a drive-thru since we landed in the UK, so it feels like a real milestone for us."
"We've carefully planned our site acquisition strategy in line with where we're seeing most demand from our customers, and it's great to see it coming to life."