Alvin C. Copeland Sr.'s first chicken venture was a flop. His Chicken on the Run restaurant dished up traditional fried chicken, but his customers in the suburbs of New Orleans turned up their noses. So he decided to start over completely. This time, he named the restaurant "Popeye's" after Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, played by Gene Hackman in the movie The French Connection. But it wasn't the name that brought customers flocking in: it was the new chicken recipe, now spicy with New Orleans flair. This flavor has fueled astronomical growth ever since?in 2011, Popeye's opened its 2,000th restaurant worldwide.
Now, Popeye's is an international destination for crunchy Cajun-style fried chicken and melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits. Both the spicy and mild chicken gets marinated for 12 hours or more, then it's hand-battered, hand-breaded, and fried to a delectable crisp, like space aliens that fly too close to the sun. The french baguettes of po' boy sandwiches come stuffed with chicken or crispy shrimp, and to finish off meals, diners have their pick of homestyle sides such as coleslaw, green beans, and mashed potatoes.