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

A male deer was spotted with an arrow through its back near a Columbia Street home Oct. 19, 2020 in Penticton. (Dave Katt / Facebook)
Deer with arrow through back spotted roaming Penticton

Conservation officers are searching for the animal

selfie.
Morning Start: Selfies Kill More People Than Sharks

Your morning start for Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020

The Penticton Indian Band has elected a new Chief. (File)
Penticton Indian Band elect new chief

Greg Gabriel was elected to replace incumbent Chad Eneas

Junction 3 Coffeehouse in Osoyoos has found a creative way for customers to enjoy a cup of coffee outdoors in their own safe bubble. (Junction 3 photo)
Hangout in your own personal bubble at this Osoyoos cafe

Osoyoos cafe gets creative under COVID-19 restrictions

(Submitted by Cassidi Markus)
Snow flurries forecasted for the Okanagan this weekend

Arctic front expected to bring colder than average temperatures and snow

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Charmaine Scherck with her fiancee, Jason. Friends of the Vernon mortgage broker have started a GoFundMe after a spinal cord stroke left her paralyzed from the chest down Sept. 17, 2020. (Contributed)
Funds raised for Vernon woman who awoke mysteriously paralyzed

Friends are rallying support for Charmaine Scherck, who suffered a spinal cord stroke on Sept. 17

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island residents warned to watch livestock, pets after bear kills llama

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

One of the chairs that was damaged in Peachland. (Brad Johnson - Facebook)
Peachland staff, ArtWalk hopeful art chairs will be back after vandalism

The ArtWalk chairs were found damaged less than a week after installation

Salmon Arm resident Baillie Bridle turned an 80 cent spin of an online slot machine into almost $800,000. (BCL photo)
Salmon Arm woman hits online jackpot, winning close to $800,000

Winner says money may be used to purchase boat

Lumby is proceeding with Halloween fireworks for 2020, but encouraging everyone to stay in their cars or watch from home. (Dale Eurich Photography - 2019)
Halloween fireworks curbed in all but two North Okanagan communities

COVID-19 forces Lake Country, Coldstream, BX, Armstrong to cancel events

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Most Read