Popeyes is expanding its menu to add a blackened chicken sandwich and a bacon and cheese topping for its chicken sandwiches.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is steadily adding a blackened chicken sandwich to its menu on Tuesdays, marking the first addition to its chicken sandwich line since the craze began four years ago.
The new menu item features a chicken breast that has been marinated for 12 hours and seasoned with Cajun spices, but lacks the breading of the chain’s existing chicken sandwich. Popeyes President Sami Siddiqui said in a statement that the Blackened Chicken Sandwich gives diners “a lighter option that’s perfect for every day.”
The Brands International Restaurant the chain also allows customers to add bacon and Havarti cheese to all of its chicken sandwiches, starting at $1.50 extra.
The menu changes show that Popeyes is counting on the popularity of its chicken sandwich to attract customers. The wider restaurant industry has seen a drop in footfall as customers move away from eating out to manage their budgets.
When the chain first released the menu item four years ago, it sold out in less than a month, helped in part by a social media feud with Chick-fil-A. The chicken sandwich made a permanent return a few months later, driving double-digit same-store sales growth for Popeyes for several quarters. Even as pandemic lockdowns plunged restaurant sales, Popeyes was the rare chain to report a surge in demand.
Other chains entered the arena, trying to show off Popeyes with their own chicken sandwiches. The added competition, combined with higher underlying sales overall, has led to less impressive growth for Popeyes recently. In the first quarter, US same-store sales rose just 3.4%.
Popeyes is also pushing beyond its chicken sandwich to boost sales. It added Ghost Pepper Wings to its menu permanently after the limited-time spicy item sold out in just two weeks in January.
Shares of parent company Restaurant Brands have risen 16% this year, fueled by early signs of a turnaround in the U.S. Burger King business. The company has a market value of $23.4 billion.