The national quick-service chain Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has announced it will open its first Southern Tier location. Earlier this year, the Binghamton Department of Planning, Housing and Community development approved demolition of a former military surplus store at 162 Main Street in the city to make way for a 2,695-square-foot drive-through restaurant, but the brand name had not been confirmed until an announcement on Wednesday.
The site had been home to a much larger structure, a Sir Plus chain store, that recently was torn down to allow for the start of new construction. The Popeyes facility will be about 15,000 square feet smaller than the surplus outlet. The new business will open in a section of Main Street already home to a number of chain restaurants, such as Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Kennedy Fried Chicken. No projected timeline for an opening has been released. The closest Popeyes venues to the Binghamton area are in the Syracuse/Utica market and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Popeyes began in 1972 as Popeyes Mighty Good Fried Chicken, founded in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi by Al Copeland. As the company’s official history states, it sold “traditional mild fried chicken [but] business was slow, and the chicken team realized they’d have to sell a spicier alternative to their standard chicken recipe if they wanted to impress flavor-seeking New Orleanians. Copeland started franchising his restaurant in 1976, beginning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and over the next 10 years added approximately 500 outlets.” According to Entrepreneur.com, the company today has about 2,000 outlets worldwide.
Incidentally, Copeland claimed he named his business for the fictional police detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in the movies “The French Connection” (1971) and “The French Connection II” (1975), rather than for the cartoon character Popeye the Sailor. He joked that the spelling of the name came about because he could not afford an apostrophe.