There’s been plenty of controversy about airports approving restaurant locations serving chicken sandwiches. Unless you’ve been avoiding social media for the last week, you know that there’s a new entrant in that market and it could make airport concession companies think twice about which franchise they want to open.
Up until now, if you were going to open a chicken sandwich franchise, Chick-fil-A was the only game in town. While the restaurant chain has a share of loyalists who are addicted to their sandwiches and sweet tea, there’s also a number of people who refuse to patronize the company due to the social and cultural views of its CEO and other executives. That’s not even to mention what you should do if you’d want a chicken sandwich on a Sunday.
If you think about it, this was the only type of food where there was no other available mainstream option.
If you want coffee, there’s Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. For hamburgers, you could choose from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s or even smaller players such as Five Guys or Shake Shack. Pizza has Sbarro’s, Famous Famiglia or California Pizza Kitchen (well, if you even consider that last one pizza, which I don’t. But hey, I’m from the northeast).
This led to franchise owners applying to open Chick-fil-A locations in airports where they weren’t totally welcome. When a lease for a location was signed at Miami Airport, a local politician fought to get it rescinded. The San Jose airport approved a location while saying they’d hang rainbow flags around the location, proving they don’t have any idea how any of this works.
There also have been high profile cases of applications to open Chick-fil-As in Buffalo and San Antonio airports being denied because of the company’s positions.
If you’re a businessperson and you want to open an airport location, you want to make money but you also want to avoid controversy.
So what if there was a viable option?
Enter the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich:
Now, understand that Popeyes Louisiana Chicken is no stranger to airports. Many people would rather eat at their location in Concourse D of Atlanta Airport instead of eating at One Flew South.
The Philadelphia airport Popeyes location made headlines when they offered passengers the ability to purchase an “Emotional Support Chicken” for their flight.
No matter how good it is, there’s something totally impractical about bringing fried chicken aboard a plane to eat during a flight. While you’d be breaking one of the ten unwritten rules of flying, it’s also a question of having to wash your hands in the tiny bathroom sink and what to do with the bones until the flight attendant comes around to collect the trash.
That’s what makes a chicken sandwich so appealing, There are no remnants of your meal. Once you’re done, all you have to do is dispose of the wrapper. What Popeyes Louisiana Chicken has provided is a viable option to a franchisee who sees the potential for a location selling chicken sandwiches at the airport. Granted, Chick-fil-A provides a built-in fan base, but it also has a section of people who will never eat there. It’s also closed 15% of the week. Popeyes has no negative baggage, is open seven days a week and also now sells a chicken sandwich.
I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Popeyes Louisiana Chicken locations opening at airports, even at ones that already have Chick-fil-A locations. After all, as a business, you never know how much of a market you’re losing until there’s a viable alternative. If the recent lines at Popeyes are any indication, apparently Chick-fil-A may have been losing more than they’d care to admit.
Who knows where we’ll end up from here.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary