Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the southern-styled fast food chicken and seafood chain founded in 1972 that now boasts more than 2,000 outlets globally, has officially opened in Penticton.
And if today's noon hour is any indication, it'll be popular.
Centrally located at 2050 Main - adjacent to the partially constructed Winners and HomeSense Superstore due to open this fall - the Penticton Popeyes features 30 seats inside (with more on the way), 20 seats on its patio, and a drive thru lane. And they were all jammed today during our visit.
The restaurant features typical Popeyes entrees like chicken pieces and "tenders," chicken sandwiches, butterfly and popcorn shrimp, and Cajun fish. Side orders include Cajun fries, red beans and rice, and mac and cheese. Desserts include tasty treats like cheesecake, chocolate mud cake, strawberry cream cheese pie, and cinnamon apple pies.
One of Popeyes' big draws is its southern spices. Its seafood, for example, is marinated in "Louisiana seasonings and spices." Its chicken is available in "mild" or "spicy." And you'll find Creole and Cajun-flavoured selections throughout the menu.
Raheel Sheikh is the co-owner of the Penticton Popeyes, and he says the company has big plans for BC. The Main Street location is the second he's opened in the province (the other is in Kamloops), and he'll be opening eight more.
In all, Popeyes expects to have 40 restaurants across BC over the course of the next decade. One of those will be in West Kelowna, in the same plaza as Wal Mart. According to Shiekh, it'll be open "in the next three to four months."
Sheikh says they scoped out the Penticton property - the former site of a Scotia Bank branch - in late 2018, and began construction/remodeling in February. To date, the restaurant has hired 25 local employees, and according to Shiekh, "We still need more."
The Ontario native is thrilled so far with his Okanagan experience. "Because I'm not from here, I didn't know much about any city in BC expect for the main cities like Vancouver and Victoria. But when I moved here, it's amazing. You don't find this sort of place anywhere else in Canada."
That his restaurant has been packed since it's official opening Sunday only adds to his upbeat mood. "We expected it to be busy, but not to this extent. This is a lot more than I expected. It's almost so we've had to for some food product we didn't know we'd need. It'll slow some after the honeymoon period, and we'll adjust accordingly."
He's not sure though if Penticton has quite caught on to the Popeyes drill. "People call me all the time and ask if they can reserve a table. We can't hold tables, but people often request it because they think it's fine dining."
Amongst the crowd Monday was Tony of Penticton, who was knocking back a meal on the patio with three other folks. He said he'd tried a Popeyes "about ten years ago in at Atlanta airport at 8 in the morning, and wanted to see what it was all about again."
"It's just really great chicken," he said, adding that this was his second visit since it opened yesterday.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen at 2050 Main is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. The closing time may be adjusted in the future, depending on response.