• Mon. May 20th, 2024

Queueing ‘from 5am’ for free chicken at new Oxford restaurant Popeyes


Sep 17, 2022

The first in the queue for the new Popeyes fried chicken restaurant arrived at 5am.

The friends were on their way home from a night out when they began their daybreak wait for free chicken.

The location? Queen Street takeaway Popeyes, the newest addition to Oxford’s fast food scene.

The US chain enjoys a cult-following, particularly on social media site Instagram – where it is beloved of celebrity stars. Bloomberg dubbed the chain’s $3.99 Cajun-seasoned chicken burger the sandwich that ‘broke the internet’.

Asked how he and his team had found their opening morning, head of operations Tom Smith said: “Busy. It’s surpassed all of our expectations. People were queuing from 5am. The first 10 people in the queue had come straight from their night out.

“The first 50 in the queue got a free chicken sandwich.

“It has a cult following on social media. There are a lot of the American pop stars who have really bought into the brand.”

Unlike some other restaurants, he said, Popeyes prepared its crunchy chicken fresh.

Some of the would-be customers waiting in the queue for their free sandwich shortly after 9am on Saturday morning were already fans of the chain.

Lorant Kiraly, 19, in the queue with a friend, said: “We saw an advert on Instagram. It’s Popeyes – when they make it, compared to the English [restaurants], it’s better.”

Travis Cann, 22, said: “I went to a Popeyes in London, but as it’s opening up in home city I thought I’d come today.” Asked about the quality of the food, he said: “It’s delicious. It’s much better than [the competition].”

Others were new to restaurant, having found out about the new takeaway option via social media.

Liam Payne, 38, said: “I just read about this the other week on Facebook about the opening on the 17th. I’ve not been to Popeyes before. I’ve tried other [fried chicken restaurants], but never this place.”

By 2pm, operations manager Tom Smith said they had already served more than 500 customers.

Among the chain’s new fans was this newspaper’s reporter Sophie Perry. Invited into the store to make her own version of the chain’s signature sandwich last week, she described its taste and texture as ‘out of this world’.

“I was reluctant to give into the sheer hype because, at the end of the day, it is just a sandwich,” she said in her review.

“However, having now tasted it I can appreciate the cult following Popeyes has around the world.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward