A Popeyes Chicken franchise is interested in developing in Runnemede on the Black Horse Pike, in an empty lot that years ago was home to local bar/restaurant “Merry-Go-Round”.
This information comes from Runnemede Mayor Nick Kappatos in a conversation to the town Planning Board at their June 22nd 2022 meeting.
Kappatos explains Popeyes has had very preliminary discussions with the town. It was indicated that the franchisee has an agreement on the property.
Popeyes will be putting together a formal application ahead of a Planning Board review. That timeline is not known at this time.
A 42Freeway reader tipped us to the Popeyes news, but a big shout-out to Runnemede resident and journalist Dan Conard who runs the website “My View on Runnemede“.
At his website Dan provides commentary on the town and meetings, and also records the town meetings and publishes to Youtube (where we watched the most recent Planning Board meeting). You can also find Dan’s Runnemede content on Twitter and videos at YouTube.
Popeyes Black Horse Pike Runnemede
The property that Popeyes is interested in sits on the Black Horse Pike at the intersection with E 8th Avenue.
It is directly next to the existing CVS, and on the block directly across the street (but on the far corner) is a Wawa location.
If you are looking the property up on Google Maps, the best address to use is 800 N Black Horse Pike, Runnemede NJ.
By our calculations the mostly cleared lot is just under one acre.
In a quick internet search we found several Popeye’s restaurants proposed in even smaller sized lots.
As mentioned, this is a very early announcement so we don’t have timing on the approvals or development timeline.
Having lived in Bellmawr for 45 years and being a Triton graduate, I am very familiar with Runnemede and the area.
While there are quick food options further North on the Black Horse Pike (Wendy’s, Royal Farms, Chipotle, Burger King, McDonald’s), moving south past the Turnpike into Runnemede and Gloucester Township there really aren’t any options.
Considering the traffic and proximity to the Turnpike Exit 3, this seems like a Popeyes here would do well.
Runnemede has had several new and exciting business openings the last few years, and a few more are in the pipeline. We’ve recently covered Irish Hill Tavern, Capt’n Chucky’s, Cob Fathers, Dollar General, and Name Your Sport. Have a few more to catch up on!
The Chicken Sandwich That Changed an Industry
Popeyes is a popular and growing chicken fast-food restaurant, with over 3,500 restaurants in 46 states and 30 countries.
While the featured item had always been their version of classic fried chicken, back in 2019 they introduced a new chicken sandwich which caught everyone off guard; from the public, to Popeyes management… and all the way through the fast-food industry.
The chicken sandwich introduction went viral as customers clamored to get their hands on one of the new sandwiches which was said to be the best in the industry. Stores across the country quickly sold out of the sandwiches.
And with that one product introduction Popeyes fortunes sales and exposure shot up through the roof. A two year growth of 36% and store average earnings increased $400,000… literally from the sandwich!
Over the subsequent years other fast food restaurants also introduced new versions of chicken sandwiches, in hopes of gaining back some of those customers who had now switched over to Popeyes for their chicken cravings.
Scroll down for my ad-hoc Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich review view from August 2019!
Merry-Go-Round and… What Was That Place Called?
The site for the planned Popeyes Chicken in Runnemede is now a mostly empty lot, but the remaining asphalt area still has the visible painted lines of a parking lot which supported a long gone business.
A building once stood on the left edge of the property, and for most of it’s life was known as Merry-Go-Round bar and restaurant.
Merry-Go-Round was a local bar which seemed to attract a middle-aged crowd.
During it’s hey-days into the 80s, they could still pack in 200 customers who would were looking to step away from the rock and disco clubs of the era.
The Four Cleffs were the house band focusing on older standards and jazz… and they are said to of played 6 nights a week, 5 sets a night, for 10 years!
I remember it as being a small place, but in reading an account from the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1989, Merry-Go-Round was described as having 4 bars and two dance floors.
One customer was quoted as saying “There are no kids here” which explains why I don’t remember much… back then I was much younger and we were over on the other side of town at Kaddidlehoppers in Barrington!
I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when the Merry-Go-Round changed hands and names.
In the mid-90s the restaurant was called Chicago’s.
Chicago’s was identified as one of three bars which were raided in 1999 as part of a large scale sports gambling ring investigation.
Soon after after it was rebranded as Mulberry Street Bistro, around 1999.
Mulberry Street seemed more oriented towards the restaurant aspect then the nightclub.
In 2003 the establishment changed again, this time Fiddlehead Restaurant and Bar. It was purchased by Dean KouKoulas who was a widely known Philadelphia bar and restaurant owner… well more like a local celebrity!
Fiddlehead brought a tropical theme to the bar and an outdoor deck provided an outdoor bar and more seating.
Man, I still don’t know where they put all of this on that smaller property!
Searching newspaper archives I can’t find any references to Fiddlehead after 2004.
Sometime around 2009 the building was demolished and the lot has been mostly vacant since, except for a storage building.
We’ll have more as changes come… probably whenever the Planning Board application is submitted.
Links and Location
Popeyes Runnemede (Early Planning Stages)
800 N Black Horse Pike
Popeyes Corporate Website