Popeyes is opening a flagship restaurant in London
It'll be in Westfield Stratford and follows the recent expansion of rival US chain Wendy's to British shores
The US fast food market seems to be making serious inroads into the UK. We've already had Taco Bell and Five Guys for a good few years now, Denny's and Chick-Fil-A attempted to break in on the other side of the atlantic too and Wendy's has just returned to the UK after an absence of multiple decades. It seems that Popeyes, another well-known American fast food chain, wants to get in on the action too. It's announced that it'll be opening a new flagship restaurant at Westfield Stratford!
The new branch of Popeyes will be opening in November 2021, replacing a branch of KFC that's currently there. The Stratford restaurant is intended to be a prelude to the chain opening across the UK. Judging from its initial announcement back in March, Popeyes is aiming for 350 branches across the country. Popeyes is adamant that no concessions or changes will be made to its menu for the UK market. This'll mean that British customers will be able to enjoy exactly the same chicken tenders and chicken nuggets as American patrons, as well as its famous fried chicken sandwich that launched a craze a couple of years ago.
The chain is being fairly choosy about where it wants to put its UK branches, too. "All our locations will be carefully chosen, in communities that echo the Louisianan spirit synonymous with Popeyes," stated Chief Executive Tom Crowley. Which communities those will be are yet to be announced.
Will Popeyes do well in the UK? That's a question we can't quite answer just yet. Popeyes does, however, seem to already be a lot less controversial than one of its rival chains Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A was (quite rightfully) driven out of the UK over its history of funding anti-LGBTQIA+ organisations in America. Pressure from gay rights groups meant that its lease at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading was cancelled after a week, whilst its Scottish branch closed only a few months later. Popeyes doesn't seem to have any of these kind of controversies surrounding it, although it did come under fire for its poor treatment of workers during the Popeyes sandwich craze in 2019.
There's also the question of whether Popeyes is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to the phenomenon of American fast food chains setting up shop in the UK. With American market rivals already operating over here, Popeyes could find itself being seen as just another American-style fast food restaurant in a sea of other similar American-style fast food restaurants. In order to really succeed, Popeyes will have to make itself really stand out as an alternative for British customers. Let's see what happens come November and, perhaps more importantly, once life in Britain returns to normal post-COVID...