Fans from all over the country flocked to Popeyes stores to experience the cultural phenomenon that captured the attention of Americans over the summer. It took the Popeyes culinary team two years to develop the chicken sandwich, and after officially releasing it on August 12, the sandwich sold out in just two weeks.
Yahoo Finance went to two New York City Popeyes locations Sunday to observe customer reaction to the sandwich’s homecoming.
The Popeyes in Union Square opened 30 minutes later than scheduled and customers had to wait between one hour and one and a half hours on average. People waiting in line told Yahoo Finance that for at least 30 minutes after the store opened, there was only one cashier, one cook and one person assembling orders.
Tristan Broome was the second person to walk out of the Union Square Popeyes store, with his order of two chicken sandwiches. “Hopefully everyone has a decent experience,” Broome said. “I feel they’re woefully unprepared for it, at least at this location.” Broome also ordered apple pie, but the workers told him that it was not prepared.
Most of the patrons in line said that it was their first time trying the chicken sandwich and had heard about it through their friends and social media.
While some customers waited to place orders through a cashier, some had the idea to bypass the long line by placing a mobile order. “[There were] probably 20 to 30 people in front of me [in line] so all I did was walk up to see what time they open and saw that you can place a mobile order,” Keyonah Colter told Yahoo Finance in an interview. “So I placed a mobile order and just got my sandwiches around 11:45 a.m.”
After about an hour of opening, some customers became impatient and began snapping at other patrons. Customers became restless and disgruntled due to the long wait times and inefficient workflow.
‘That’s really good’
Michelle Amico waited a total of two hours for her four chicken sandwiches. She waited in the normal line for about an hour and half, then decided to try to place a mobile order. It was her first ever Popeyes chicken sandwich, and after her first bite, she was not disappointed. “It’s pretty freaking good,” she said. “That’s really good.”
When asked how it compared to rival Chick-fil-A, “Ooh, it’s different. It’s thicker. Definitely tastes unhealthy. Chick-fil-A, you don’t really think it’s that bad for you. [Popeyes] tastes very oil and greasy,” Amico added.
“Worth the hype. I don’t know about two hours, but worth the hype,” Amico said.
Experiences varied based on locations. The environment was quite different at Popeyes in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Though it had a smaller interior and there was still a sizable line at approximately 12:40 p.m. ET, Yahoo Finance was able to purchase two chicken sandwiches in less than 10 minutes.
‘One thing is to predict high demand ...’
While the Popeyes team knew the chicken sandwich would be successful, the extent of the fan response was largely unprecedented.
“We knew we had a very high quality product at a very attractive price point. One thing is to predict high demand, the other thing is when you have 50 people lined up outside of the restaurant at 9 a.m. when the restaurant opens at 10 a.m.,” Popeyes America’s President Felipe Athayde previously told Yahoo Finance in an interview.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.
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