Long Islanders often rail against large-chain restaurants, but the nation’s third-largest chicken chain wouldn't be planning an expansion here if it didn't think it would be successful.
Five new Popeyes franchises are in the works on the Island, which will bring the total number of locations in the fast-food chain to 17 in Suffolk and Nassau counties, said Lawrence BenBassett, director of development for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc.
Popeyes has about 2,500 restaurants in the United States, and approximately 175 new locations will have opened by the end of 2018, he said.
“We think there’s a lot of opportunity for [new] Popeyes,” particularly in the Midwest and West Coast, BenBassett said.
Of the five new locations slated for Long Island, two are going through the municipal permitting process, he said.
Three others are under construction:
• Brentwood: A franchisee entered into a ground lease to construct a free-standing, 2,695-square-foot building at 1825 Brentwood Rd. in the Brent City Shopping Center, said Robert Monahan, manager of Island Associates Real Estate, the Smithtown firm that oversees leasing for the shopping center.
• Deer Park: A 2,039-square-foot, free-standing Popeyes is taking the place of a former Nathan’s hot dog shop at 1670 Deer Park Ave.
• Riverhead: A 2,265-square-foot Popeyes will be built on a vacant parcel at 212 Old Country Rd.
The Brentwood location likely will open in 2019 at the end of the first quarter or the start of the second quarter, and the Deer Park and Riverhead locations will open in the first quarter, BenBassett said.
Founded in New Orleans in 1972, Popeyes serves Southern-style chicken and side items.
When Restaurant Brands International Inc., a Canadian company that also owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, bought Popeyes for $1.8 billion in March 2017, it said it planned to speed up growth for the chicken chain.
Over the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, the number of Popeyes restaurants worldwide grew by 7.6 percent to 3,022 locations.
The chain is playing catch-up in a way.
“You think about McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, I mean they all have a lot more stores than we do. There’s still a lot of areas in the country that don’t have a Popeyes,” BenBassett said.
Sales at fast-food restaurants are projected to rise 4.4 percent this year but the chicken segment has been outpacing that, and those sales are expected to grow 5.5 percent in 2018, said David Henkes, senior principal at Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based restaurant industry research firm.
“Chicken is a popular menu item, and chains like Chick-fil-A — and Popeyes — serve a product that resonates with consumers and is seen as a great alternative to burgers in a fast-food environment,” he said.
Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at email@example.com.