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6 Major Changes Underway at Popeyes

The chicken chain has been rolling out all sorts of additions and upgrades in 2024.

Since opening its first restaurant (formerly known as Chicken on the Run) in 1972, Popeyes has exploded in popularity, ultimately emerging as one of the biggest chicken chains in the United States.

Throughout its 52-year lifespan, Popeyes has drawn in customers with its Louisiana-style fried chicken and other southern favorites like biscuits, mashed potatoes, and red beans and rice. Despite the popularity of these tried-and-true dishes, the fast-food chain still makes sure to keep things fresh and exciting.

In 2024, Popeyes has not only tested new menu offerings but also implemented various operational upgrades to improve the customer and employee experience. On top of that, the fast-food chain is looking to ramp up growth across the U.S. as well as international markets.

From new menu items to kitchen upgrades, here are six major changes impacting Popeyes this year—and beyond.

Exciting menu additions

Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich

The Louisiana Kitchen has rolled out several new menu items in 2024. Take the new Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich, for example, which launched in May. This sandwich features a buttermilk-battered chicken breast, barrel-cured pickles, and a sweet and tangy Golden BBQ sauce. Customers can also elevate this sandwich by adding a slice of Havarti cheese and applewood-smoked bacon.

Most recently, Popeyes expanded its chicken wing selection to include boneless wings, which are available in six flavors: Classic, Honey Lemon Pepper, Signature Hot, Honey BBQ, Sweet 'N Spicy, and Roasted Garlic Parmesan. The chain permanently added chicken wings to its menu back in November. Time will only tell what will be hitting Popeyes' menu going forward.

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Kitchen upgrades

popeyes employee ringing up customer
WKanadpon / Shutterstock

In an effort to modernize, Popeyes is implementing "30 distinct changes" in its kitchens, according to Nation's Restaurant News.

"Categorically, people love Popeyes' food. But they've told us the experience can be inconsistent," Sami Saddiqui, CFO of Popeyes' parent company Restaurant Business International (RBI), said during TD Cowen's Future of the Consumer Conference in June. "As we did a bunch of research, our kitchen formats had not been updated in about a decade. In that decade, a lot has changed—the emergence of boneless chicken, digital becoming a more meaningful channel. Those shifts require a rethink."

RBI first started testing its "easy-to-run kitchens" earlier this year in clustered markets starting in California. These converted kitchens feature new equipment and improved kitchen layouts, along with upgraded technology and simplified processes. One kitchen upgrade is a piece of equipment that automatically batters chicken, ultimately giving employees more time to complete other tasks.

"I visited our California Easy to Run kitchens twice now this year and have heard from franchisees and team members how impactful the simplified kitchens and automated ordering can be to our business," RBI CEO Joshua Kobza said during an April earnings call.

In February, Kobza shared that the company plans to deploy "a few more" of these converted kitchens throughout 2024. He added that RBI aims to scale them to the entire system "hopefully later in 2024 and into 2025."

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New U.S. restaurants

Popeyes grand opening display
rblfmr / Shutterstock

A new Popeyes restaurant could be coming to a city near you. In February, RBI announced that it plans to expand its presence in the U.S. and Canada by growing from 3,400 locations in 2023 to more than 4,200 restaurants by 2028. This would amount to 800 new restaurants during this timeframe. The chain also projects that it will open at least 7,000 new international restaurants over the next five years.

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International expansion


Popeyes isn't just opening new locations in North America. The chicken chain is also growing across the world. In February, RBI announced that Popeyes will develop its presence in Italy thanks to a new franchise agreement with Restaurant Brands Iberia (RB Iberia), the parent company of Burger King Spain, Burger King Portugal, Popeyes Spain, and Tim Hortons Spain.

While the company didn't reveal an exact date, it did share that the first Italy-based restaurant is slated to open "later this year." Popeyes currently operates restaurants in more than 35 countries.

"We are thrilled to spearhead the launch of Popeyes in Italy. It is an iconic brand that has been well-received in Spain, and we are fully committed to its success within the Group," Gregorio Jiménez, chairman of Restaurant Brands Iberia, said in a press release.

In addition to Italy, Popeyes will also grow in China. Just this week, RBI announced the acquisition of Popeyes China from Tims China, noting that "the pace of restaurant growth is expected to ramp up through investments in local teams and restaurant development." There are currently 14 Popeyes restaurants in Shanghai. As far as longer-term plans, RBI added that it intends to bring on local partners "to form a more traditional franchise master franchisee," similar to Popeyes' other international markets.

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New deals

Popeyes Big Box meal with chicken, fries, a biscuit, and mashed potatoes

At a time when numerous fast-food chains are focusing on affordability by rolling out discounted meal deals, Popeyes is entering the value wars, too. In June, the fast-food chain relaunched its Big Box promotion for $6.99. Each box includes two pieces of fried chicken, a buttermilk biscuit, and a choice of two sides.

For those seeking an even larger meal, Popeyes is also currently offering its Bigger Box, which features a choice of 10 pieces of fried chicken or 10 chicken tenders and four biscuits. All of this costs $20. Both deals are available nationwide for a limited time.

In addition to these value meals, Popeyes fans can score some other deals in July. For one day only, they can get a free six-piece order of the chain's new boneless wings with any purchase at participating restaurants. Customers can also score a free six-piece order of boneless wings with a purchase of at least $10 through July 14.

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Leadership changes

popeyes storefront
Robert V Schwemmer / Shutterstock

Popeyes' leadership has undergone several changes throughout 2024. In January, the company appointed Jourdan Daleo as its chief operating officer for Popeyes U.S. and Canada. Daleo has been with RBI since 2016 and oversees the brand's field team, restaurant operations, and company-owned restaurants.

A couple of months later, RBI announced even more leadership shakeups. In March, the company appointed Sam Siddiqui, who worked at RBI for 11 years, as chief financial officer. Before this role, Siddiqui was president of Popeyes U.S. and Canada for nearly four years. With this recent change, Jeff Klein was promoted to replace Siddiqui and previously served as Popeyes' chief marketing officer for two years.

Additionally, Thiago Santelmo was appointed president of Popeyes' international division, replacing David Shear, who is serving as an advisor to assist with the leadership transition. Santelmo has been with RBI for 11 years and started with a focus on Latin America, first as a general manager and later as president for the region. He also lead the company's growth in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) region.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna