On Aug. 12, the Louisiana-style chicken restaurant Popeyes launched its new menu item: the chicken sandwich. But, after selling out of the item nationwide in just over two weeks after the sandwich’s release, the fast food chain discontinued the item.
After teasing the item several times via Twitter, on Oct. 28, Popeyes announced the sandwich would make its comeback on Nov. 3 — this time for good.
Now, the chicken sandwich is back and a hot commodity. Lawrence’s Popeyes' manager Brandon Haynes said he’s noticed a drastic uptick in sales since the sandwich’s return. He said in the past week, sales have shot up from about “$3,000 to about $11,000 per day” and the restaurant is now busy, “basically all day.”
Haynes said roughly 80% of this store’s sales have been chicken sandwiches alone.
The booming sales have also caused the lines of customers to increase substantially. Haynes said during the first few days of the sandwich’s revival, some people had to wait up to an hour and a half to get their food. However, now the average wait has been cut down to 30 minutes, Haynes said.
The hype around the sandwich is evident, but what makes it so popular?
Nick Springer, a senior at the University of Kansas from Wichita, said he thinks the sauce that goes with the sandwich is what separates it from its competitors.
“I got the spicy one and it came with this orange sauce,” Springer said. “Chick-fil-A doesn’t really offer anything like that. I mean, they have Chick-fil-A sauce, but that isn’t something I typically put on my spicy chicken sandwich — only the regular.”
Haynes, on the other hand, pointed to another component that may be what’s causing people’s mouths to water over the sandwich.
“From my personal experience, I like the Popeyes chicken sandwich a lot better [than Chick-fil-A’s] just because of the seasoning,” Haynes said. “The seasoning is amazing on this sandwich.”
Springer also said he enjoys the texture of the Popeyes chicken sandwich over Chick-fil-A’s.
“To me, I thought it was crispier,” Springer said. “When I bit into it, it almost melted in my mouth. It was delicious.”
Since the sandwich’s return, Haynes expressed that Popeyes has been actively looking to hire more employees to accommodate the rush. He said the restaurant has hired 10 to 20 people since Nov. 3 and encouraged more people to apply.
“We still need [employees] very bad,” Haynes said. “A lot of people come, they see the rush, they come for one day and then we don’t see them again.”
Haynes also said employees have had to work extra hours because of the prominence of the chicken sandwich.
“We actually come in about two hours earlier now,” Haynes said. “We usually close at around 10 p.m. When we close, we usually end up cleaning for about an hour — get off at 11 p.m. Now, people are staying until midnight — 1 a.m.”
While Haynes sees the benefits of the sandwich, he said the difficulties it has caused the restaurant — such as long lines, longer shifts and extra work — is frustrating. He also referenced a news story reported by CNN about an infuriated customer who killed another person in line.
“As to all the incidents and stuff that has been going on over the sandwich, it’s definitely not worth it — as in the staffing [problems],” Haynes said. “[And], someone shouldn’t be getting stabbed over a Popeyes chicken sandwich.”