Randy Estrada holds up his chicken sandwiches at a Popeye’s in Kyle, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. The much-hyped chicken sandwich will go on sale Canada-wide on Monday, after trial launches in Edmonton and southern Ontario earlier this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eric Gay

Popeyes to roll out viral chicken sandwich Canada-wide amid physical distancing

Popeyes has launched an ambitious expansion in the Canadian market in the last five years.

Popeyes’ much-hyped chicken sandwich will go on sale Canada-wide on Monday, after trial launches in Edmonton and southern Ontario earlier this year.

The sandwich made headlines for rapidly selling out after it was released in the U.S. last year. But unlike last year’s U.S. frenzy, the Canadian launch requires crowd control as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps restaurant capacities limited.

Popeyes Canada general manager Rob Manuel said franchisees will add physical distancing stickers both inside and outside restaurants to better direct customers while complying with pandemic-related public health measures. Manuel said the sandwich will also be available through food delivery apps at its Sept. 14 launch.

Although hiring is left to franchise owners, Manuel said shop owners are being encouraged to hire full-time staffers if needed, to deal with increased demand.

Popeyes has launched an ambitious expansion in the Canadian market in the last five years. Of its 230 locations, 100 were added in the past four years.

Popeyes, which is owned by Tim Hortons-parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc., is one of several restaurants trying to woo Canadian consumers with new fried chicken offerings. Chick-fil-A drew crowds when it opened a Toronto location last year and KFC launched its own Famous Chicken Sandwich on Sept. 7, touting a version with Canadian chicken available only in Canada.

Now restaurants, like many businesses, are trying to bring in customers as the COVID-19 pandemic has pressured business. RBI said in August that last quarter’s sales were down 31 per cent year over year, with fewer office workers grabbing morning coffees at Tim Hortons. The upside: Popeyes drive-thru sales across all regions were up 100 per cent during the second quarter, outperforming sister-brands Burger King or Tim Hortons.

Despite RBI’s ties to Canada, Manuel said Popeyes is taking its cues from the U.S. market, more so than the Tim Hortons audience, when it comes to the Canadian sandwich launch.

The sandwich – a battered, breaded white meat chicken breast fillet, pickles, plain or spicy mayonnaise, and brioche bun – was met with critical acclaim in the U.S., with Time magazine writing it was “worth the hype,” even if it was in-line with similar offerings from other fast-food chains.

Manuel said trials – one in Edmonton, one in southern Ontario, and a pre-release to 144 lottery winners this weekend – have given the chain a good idea of what level of demand they can expect. On a big day, a Popeye’s in Edmonton saw 1,600 sandwich orders, 10-times the level for the old sandwich recipe, Manuel said.

“The Canadian market, for us, is one of our faster growing markets already. We think the chicken sandwich will continue that momentum,” Manuel said.

READ MORE: Want a latte? Bring a mask: Starbucks to make face coverings mandatory in Canada

Anita Balakrishnan, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

fast food

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After dragon boat races, the Carnation Ceremony remembers those who have died and those who are fighting cancer. This year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Friends Abreast Dragon Boat team delivered 400 carnations to the staff at nine public schools, three SASCU offices and the women’s league at the curling rink as a reminder for women to book their mammogram appointments. (File photo)
Salmon Arm dragon boat team gives carnations as mammogram reminder

Breast cancer second leading cause of cancer death among Canadian women

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Snow started falling early Oct. 23, 2020 to leave Salmon Arm and area with a wintery look. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Snow in Shuswap this early in October rare but no records broken

Environment Canada predicts clear weather in Salmon Arm for election day – Oct. 24

City workers Mike Jamieson and Jamie Greencorn perform the wintery ritual of putting up road closed signs on 10th Avenue SE (also known as Shoemaker Hill) on the morning of Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm’s Shoemaker Hill closed by snow, might still reopen

City staff say steep, winding portion of 10th Avenue SE could see a few more weeks of use

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Most Read