Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
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Al Copeland lived a very colourful life…oh, yes!
In 1972, at the young age of 28, Al Copeland opened his first restaurant in Arabi, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. He called it Chicken on the Run. His slogan was, “So fast, you get your chicken before your change.”
Copeland’s plan was to compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken, but after just a few months his restaurant failed. The problem was that he sold traditional mild fried chicken and he soon realized that he would have to sell spicier chicken to satisfy the tastes of his New Orleans audience. Copeland wasted no time, and four days later he reopened as Popeyes Mighty Good Chicken. By 1975, he had renamed the company to Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and, in 2008, he changed the name, again, to Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
Shooting for the moon
Copeland started franchising his restaurant in 1976 in Louisiana. By 1985, the company opened its 500th restaurant, with another 200 opening over the following years.
Like most businesses, Copeland Enterprises had its ups and downs. By 1990 they were in default on $391 million in debts and filed for bankruptcy protection the following year. Just one year later, in 1992, the court approved a plan by Copeland’s creditors to create America’s Favorite Chicken Company, Inc. (AFC), which became the parent to Popeyes Louisiana Chicken and Church’s Chicken, another fast food chain specializing in chicken. In 2004, AFC sold Church’s to Arcapita and retained Popeyes.
Where did the name, Popeyes come from?
In 1971, a movie entitled, The French Connection, was released. Winner of five Academy Awards, it starred Gene Hackman as a detective by the name of Jimmy”Popeye” Doyle. Copeland did not name his restaurants after Popeye the Sailor Man!
Why doesn’t Popeyes have an apostrophe
Okay, so MacDonald’s has an apostrophe and so does Hardee’s. So, why doesn’t Popeye’s you ask. Well, according to Al Copeland, he simply couldn’t afford an apostrophe.
Al Copeland lived life to the fullest. He had a passion for speed and ran power boat racing teams; married four times, he held lavish weddings; he was always in the tabloids; and every year he’d have his Metairie, Louisiana, mansion decorated with an all-out elaborate Christmas display.
In addition to owning Popeyes, Copeland also owned a large handful of other restaurants as well as the legendary comedy club, The Improv, which has locations throughout the United States.
Al Copeland passed away after a battle with cancer in 2008, at age 64.
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