Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Popeyes bets on wings after viral success of chicken sandwich

Popeyes is shown in Post Falls on Nov. 3, 2019.   (Libby Kamrowski/The Spokesman-Review)
By Daniela Sirtori-Cortina Bloomberg

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s sales boomed when it launched the chicken sandwich that broke the internet. It’s now betting on wings as the next big thing.

The fried-chicken chain is making wings a permanent menu fixture starting Wednesday, according to a statement.

Popeyes is vying to be a top player in the competitive category, which is teeming with offerings from the likes of Wingstop, Bojangles and KFC.

Wings are part of a plan to power the brand’s next leg of sales growth, which has remained healthy but has moderated since the company launched the chicken sandwich in August 2019.

Popeyes is looking to bring diners in more frequently by expanding its menu, building more restaurants and making its kitchens more efficient.

Appetite for the sandwich was so high that Popeyes ran out of the small birds used for the recipe.

The chain has made “significant improvements in supply and forecasting” to ensure it has enough product, Sami Siddiqui, the chain’s president for North America, said in an emailed statement.

“We’re prepared for high demand and are committed to providing a seamless experience for our guests,” Siddiqui said.

Popeyes is leaning into occasions like family gatherings and sports events that pair well with wings, Siddiqui said.

The wings should help drive profitability for franchisees, he said, allowing for more locations.

Popeyes has previously sold wings as limited-time offers, and its “sweet n’ spicy” version was the best-performing product since the chicken sandwich, according to the company.

The new lineup will include five flavors, such as garlic parmesan and ghost pepper.

“Wings actually were the best tested products that we’ve ever run – and one significant learning was that variety matters to guests,” Siddiqui said.

Ghost pepper wings were a limited-time offer in the U.S. during the period, and helped Popeyes achieve 5.6% comparable sales growth in the region, Siddiqui said.

The chicken joint’s same-store sales rose 7% in the third quarter.

The chain is owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., also the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Firehouse Subs.