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Popeye’s Chicken Proposed For Berlin-Cross Keys Rd Winslow. And We Talk Chicken Wars!

Popeye’s Chicken Proposed For Berlin-Cross Keys Rd Winslow.  And We Talk Chicken Wars!
Reading Time: 6 minutes

A Popeye’s Chicken Restaurant is planned for Berlin-Cross Keys Rd in the core retail area between the AC Expressway and Sicklerville Rd. The specific location is an undeveloped 1.5 acre lot between Patient First (and Creanies Ice Cream) and the larger Cross Keys Medical Dental center building.

This new Popeye’s if developed will sit close to an existing PDQ Chicken restaurant on the same side of the road. PDQ is in front of Carmax.

And just three quarters of a mile away, a KFC Chicken Restaurant is currently under development in front of the Acme!

Factor in the recently opened Texas Fried Chicken (which we need to stop at)…. this one mile stretch of Cross Keys Road will have a LOT of chicken options. Oh and McDonald’s also has a new chicken sandwich!

The Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen Restaurant project is up for Winslow Twp Planning Board review on October 21st, 2021 but then I see documents stating “Request to Continue on Nov 18th” so I am not sure what that means.

This area of Berlin Cross-Keys is a core retail area in the 42Freeway region, with a large variety of fast casual restaurants (Bertucci’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Texas Roadhouse, Sakura) and also fast food eateries such as McDonald’s and PDQ Chicken.

While the roadway is very much commercially developed, there is an untouched cleared lot in the middle of all the action, which is prime location and size for a fast food restaurant.

The site plan shows the restaurant will not have a new entrance on to the busy Berlin-Cross Keys Road. The parking lot will be connected to the Patient First entrance road way, and it appears it will also connect to the Cross Keys Medical Building.

When the Patient First building was developed, they intentionally added access via a new short side road entrance, clearly with the advanced planning that eventually someone else will take over the empty lot next to them.

Popeye’s Cross Keys Site Plan. Access from Cross Keys Road appears to be from adjacent businesses.

Popeye’s Fueling the Chicken Sandwich Wars

Fast food chicken is not a new idea. Heck, I go all the way back to when Kentucky Fried Chicken was sold at Gino’s Hamburger Restaurants! (Then Gino’s became Roy Rogers, then Hardees, then some turned into Boston Chicken and other restaurants)

Anyway, of course today we have stand-alone KFC stores, Church’s Chicken, Crown and more… but none of those players really made a name in chicken sandwiches. Not even Popeye’s.

And Wendy’s had long developed a name for their chicken sandwiches in our area, even before Chick-fil-A showed up.

But yes, the King of Chicken Sandwiches is Chick-fil-A.

And rule they did… as each Chick-fil-A restaurant suffers the happy problem of how to move customers in and out fast… because if they don’t the line of drive-thru cars will back up into the roads and highways! Chick-fil-A has become masters at managing the drive-thru! Military precision!

So it’s clear that America has a craving for a delicious chicken sandwich, but it seems the majority of the consumer chicken sandwich dollars went to Chick-fil-A.

I used to live in Bellmawr and not too far from the KFC in Brooklawn, and it always amazed me that THE defact fast-food chicken restaurant did not offer a real chicken sandwich for so many years… and no, putting three chicken tenders on a bun does not make they a sandwich!

Wow… I am really going a long way to get to a point!

In 2019 a new but well known player entered the game.

Mark from 42Freeway trying the Popeye’s Chicken sandwich

Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich Enters the Ring: Aug 12, 2019

On August 12, 2019, Popeye’s released their new Chicken Sandwich.

In the first week or so it got some attention, a few positive reviews… but for the most part it was just another new fast food sandwich.

But that was soon about to change. A fast food industry revolution was about to take place. Seriously… what was about to happen seriously shook the industry.

According to website Complex, who tracked the entire history of the new Popeye’s chicken sandwich… Popeye’s got a big marketing push just a week later from the most unlikely sources.

Chick-fil-A. On August 19th 2019 Chick-fil-A tweeted a fun message about their original chicken sandwich, which while not directed at Popeye’s directly… it was clearly in response to the new chicken sandwich.

Popeye’s of course came back with an equally polite response. “Bless your little heart… ya’ll good?”

Soon other fast food outlets jumped on the twitter storm, such as Wendy’s… and soon a frenzy was brewing!

Well it’s time we should say that the Popeye’s chicken sandwich is good. Very good. Crunchier than a Chick-fil-A sandwich so there were some differences but still incredibly tasted.

And those subtle differences also fueled the media frenzy! Could the new Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich taste better than a Chick-fil-A sandwich? The country wanted to try it,

So while the Corporate twitter accounts were fighting it out and raising awareness, more tweets and Facebook posts popped up saying basically “damn this is a delicious sandwich!”

Many media outlets put the free social media hyper blasts at $23 million in value! Forbes took it a big step further and tagged the free media craziness at $65 million!

That initial crush of publicity quickly started raising the sales of the sandwich… more than Popeye’s couldve estimated.

Soon stories were circulating of restaurants running out of stock!

Which actually further created demand “It’s that good that they ran out? Well now I have to try the new Popeye’s sandwich!!”

The article calls out that rapper Quavo joked on Instagram that he had some Popeye’s Chicken Sandwiches to sell… for $1,000 a piece!

Guess what, that’s more free publicity!

Of course we know the biggest boost to sales was when Mark from 42Freeway did his own food review on Aug 25, 2019! I am sure the 1,200 views my video has was what really catapulted the sales of Popeye’s!

Supply shortages and demand continued for months.

Many speculated this was part of the plan.. to keep the sandwiches scarce to increase the media coverage.

But I imagine that Popeye’s before launching had to estimate to suppliers how much product they would need, the suppliers then staffed up to meet that intial (lower) number… and when sales took off, everyone was scrambling!

Today of course the long lines waiting to order a Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich are gone, but they are still very popular.

How do you know you’ve become a big deal? When Saturday Night Live does a parody skit on you. So yes, two months after the product launch, SNL did a spoof of the Popeye’s craze… where an unknowing British visitor suggested at a Corporate meeting “hey let’s get Popeye’s Chicken for lunch”!

Popeye’s Signage for Berlin-Cross Keys Rd Proposed Store

Everyone Wants to Make a Cluck

In May 2020… nine months after the the launch of the Popeye’s new chicken sandwich… parent company RBI announced that Popeye’s store sales were up 20% because of that one product launch from a normal year, and 40% compared to the 2019 Covid impacted year.

It didn’t take long for the entire fast food industry to see the success of the Popeye’s sandwich, and the growing American desire for chicken sandwiches… and soon everyone was releasing a new chicken in the bun entree!

McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and others created brand new chicken sandwiches so that they could be a contender in the Chicken Wars.

I’ve tried the new McDonald’s and KFC sandwiches, but not that the same time.

Both were very good, but I still lean towards the Chick-fil-A and Popeye’s sandwiches as the best.

And if I had to pick just one…

Well one of these days I’ll do a chicken sandwich taste test shootout!

Links and Location

First a big thank you to the Winslow Township Planning Board team for making all of the reviewed project documents available online! Open Government and public awareness to projects is a key belief of mine, and I will be putting more attention to it in the upcoming months.

Popeye’s Planning Board Review
Winslow Township
October 21, 2021
7:00 PM
125 South Route 73
Braddock NJ 08037

Note: The documents also indicate “request to continue Nov 18th”. I am not sure if that means they are already planning on needing a 2nd session, or if they are requesting a one month postponement.