NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–Hungry? You may soon be able to dine at a new "Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen" franchise expected to open on George Street by the middle of July.
The new Popeyes, which will be the first in New Brunswick, is still being readied for opening by Parikh Network LLC, a family business with plenty of experience in multi-unit franchising.
The restaurant is located at 375 George Street, inside a building owned by TOTO, LLC. The space has previously hosted the Sapporo Sushi restaurant and a food court.
Popeyes, an innovative, yet aggressive franchisor, was founded in 1972, in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and boasts of being the second-largest "quick service restaurant" (QSR) chicken concept, based on number of locations presently open – a number growing quite fast. A QSR is characterized by both its fast food and minimal table service.
One of the “brands” (to borrow the franchise industry term) largest franchisees, Parikh Network currently owns and operates about 19 Popeyes in the Garden State.
District Manager Robert Jackson told New Brunswick Today, Parikh Network hoped to open the restaurant on July 13, but “it might be pushed back a little bit.”
“I don’t see it [opening on the 13th], but who knows?" added Jackson. "Stranger things have happened.”
Asked why Parikh, the multi-unit franchise group, chose Hub City he told NBToday: “We are developing in that area because if we didn’t develop in that area someone else would have. They had to put a Popeyes [on George Street].”
Parikh operates Popeyes franchises in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Minnesota,as well said Jackson, adding that it owned the unit in Neptune, NJ, among others including one on Milltown Road in North Brunswick, which the company lists as being located in New Brunswick erroneously.
Aside from selling franchises to individuals or groups like Parikh who make substantial investments in hopes of earning profits, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. operates a small number of units, on its own, in the South, but all Garden State units are franchised.
“Before we talk about 2016, let us take a brief look back at our amazing results … over the last seven years.” said Cheryl Bachelder – Chief Executive Officer, Popeyes, in a recent conference call with investors, according to Seeking.Alpha.com.
“Chicken quick service restaurant market share [in the U.S.] increased from 14.8% to 25.5%,” she said, adding that the average sales volume, per restaurant, increased from nearly $1 million to about $1.4 million.
Will the Hub City location do a million-and-a-half dollars in sales volume? Only time will tell, but the demographics in Hub City, and its unique urban setting, many corporations, and Rutgers University, may provide sufficient foot traffic so vital to success.
Burger King is located next door, and is known to be a very popular spot in Hub City.
Asked if he thought the franchise would obtain the average of $1.4 million set forth by the CEO, in its first year on George Street, Jackson said, “I don’t, no.”
His best projection?
“I really couldn’t give you the exact numbers,” he said, referring NBT to the Parikh office.
The CEO says more than 90% of the U.S.-based Popeye’s' have been remodeled in recent years to reflect the company’s new "Louisiana Kitchen" image.
“Our Louisiana heritage defines who we are and where we come from. It defines what sets our apart from all of our competitors,” said Bachelder on the conference call.
"This marks the eighth consecutive year of increased profit dollars," Bachelder told investors in May.
“We released 28 new products, [from 2009 to 2015] … and evidence of unmatched menu innovations that occurs in Popeyes test kitchen every day,” said Bachelder.
And what's its trademark jingle? "Love that Chicken from Popeyes."
A couple of months ago Popeyes released an interesting, new menu item for a limited time: Magnolia Blossom Chicken.
"Ingeniously cut to resemble the petals of the Louisiana state flower Popeyes Magnolia Blossom Chicken is made from an all-white chicken breast, cut into pullable and dippable pieces and marinated with a blend of sweet orange flavors," reads a company press release.
The item is served with an appropriate "Spicy Orange dipping sauce," says the release.
"Magnolia Blossom Chicken delivers the flavors of a Louisiana summer in every pullable, dippable bite, and we know guests are going to love it," said Hector Muñoz, Chief Marketing Officer — U.S., Popeyes.
"At Popeyes, we have built a tradition of innovation guided by our Louisiana heritage. Magnolia Blossom Chicken is an example of that tradition in action, featuring both an incredible new flavor alongside a new cut of our famous Louisiana style chicken."
The meal is only $3.99, and includes one of Popeyes "signature sides, [and a] buttermilk biscuit, according to the release. Past offers have included "Dip'n Chick'n and Rip'n Chick'n,"which the company says both represent very "successful offers in the brand's long history of innovation."
And on June 27, Popeyes announced its "$5 Boneless Wing Bash," which the company says is a great value, although it ran a buck more than the Magnolia chicken.
"Our $5 Boneless Wing Bash is another example of how we continue to bring the amazing flavor of Popeyes chicken to our guests …" said Muñoz.
"We believe in doing things the Popeyes way, and combining our new Boneless Wings with a side and a biscuit for just $5 continues to deliver high value and great Popeyes food to our guests."
Another Popeyes will be opening in the North Jersey town of Little Falls and Woodland Park on Route 46. Unlike the Hub City Popeyes it will be built from the ground up, and sounds large: 25,000 square feet, according to a report on NorthJersey.com.
While it was approved by the township's zoning board last month, the report notes that approvals from the Environmental Protection Agency were also required. The report doesn’t specify when the unit is expected to open.
"Since the back part of the property is located in a floodplain for the Peckman River, the applicant was also required to obtain approvals from the Environmental Protection Agency, which it did. Barriers will be installed at the site that will push into the doorway during a flood event. The barriers can stop up to two feet of water from flowing into the establishment, the applicant testified," reads the report.
It added: "Deliveries will be made to the site during early morning hours such as 2 or 3 a.m., according to the applicant’s attorney. Langanella Property Management is the applicant for the project."
Parikh Network does not appear to own the North Jersey unit according to Jackson, the Parikh district manager.
The Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. corporate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.