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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Hub City is now home to a large, 82-seat Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, which opened on September 3.
District managers Dwayne Hayes and Robert Jackson who work for Parikh Network LLC, the owner of the new franchise, explained their main desire: serving the community.
In what the two noted was their first media interview, they spoke about the power of the Popeyes “brand,” what it’s like working in the quick service restaurant (QSR) business for a multi-unit franchisee, the number of staffers on board in New Brunswick, the importance of customer feedback, how they hope to give customers a great experience, and a few other tidbits.
Hayes and Jackson also touched on the importance of food safety, regular inspections, equipment that heats their water to 200 degrees, and, naturally, another reason the group opened the unit: to make money.
“We love Popeyes! We love [New Brunswick], it’s a great community,” said Hayes, adding that people are excited the restaurant finally opened.
Just seeing “people’s faces” when they walk in “is what makes us love our jobs and love being here in this community,” said Hayes. “They are so excited ‘like wow Popeyes is here’ that is what makes us love our jobs here in [New Brunswick].”
Customers have been patient as well, said Hayes. The restaurant opened more than two months behind schedule due to the unexpected need to upgrade the electric supply from outside.
Construction workers had to dig up the ground on the sidewalk in front of the building and “bring in more juice” as Jackson put it, in coordination with PSE&G.
“There wasn’t enough energy coming to power the equipment … so [workers] had to dig up the street and start all over and give us more juice.”
People are finding out through word of mouth that we are opened, said the managers. They are “coming in to get great product and great food.”
The staff is also friendly and eager to be of service. Right now you get two pieces of free chicken for simply giving feedback and telling about your experience.
“We care about [customers and their] feedback,” said Jackson with a smile. ” ‘Give us thighs please,’ ” he said, demonstrating that customers like the program which gets them involved.
“When you order the food you take a survey, you get two free pieces of chicken on your next visit,” said Hayes “we are that interested in knowing about your feedback that we ask every guest, every guest no matter how busy it is no matter how long the line is, we want to know what we can to get better – to improve so that you can have a great experience here at Popeyes.
Both district managers worked their way up, they said, explaining how Parikh, their company, offers great opportunity for growth. Managers at all of their restaurants were crew members first, who grew with the company, advancing to management. The outlet has about 35 to 40 employees, said Jackson, adding that most are part-time.
“We want this to be the place to be, we want to be the best on the block, that’s it,” said Hayes. “We want people to come here and say this is the best experience that they every had, and this is the best store.”
And the best fast food chain, added Jackson.
“Our brand provides us with great support and we are in the store yearly making sure we hit the franchises [targets],” said Hayes.
Over the summer, Jackson told NBToday that if Parikh didn’t develop in Hub City, then another operator would have.
“People are developing all the time in our business,” Jackson said. “You are given a territory in which you [must] have so many Popeyes [by a certain] time and this is part of our area, so we developed here.”
Or else, “the territory would have been someone else’s,” Said Jackson.
Looking ahead to the future and expressing their satisfaction with the location at 375 George Street, Hayes said the other goal was to make money. “Who doesn’t want to make money?” asked Hayes, with a laugh. But “we want people to understand that … our job is to try to satisfy everyone.”
Our job is for you two come back, said Hayes “we want to take care of everything in the four walls.”
While the Hub City Popeyes represents Parikh’s 19th Popeyes in New Jersey, Jackson and Hayes say that by the end of next year, their company may have as many as 140, though they may not all be Popeyes, as Parikh operates other restaurant franchises as well.
“We are growing,” said Hayes of his employer, “they don’t want to stop until they take over the world.”
Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.