I’m not sure anything can symbolize the gentrification of New Orleans more than Mitch Landrieu second-lining the announcement that Popeye’s is being sold to Burger King Canadian parent company Restaurant Brands International for $1.8 billion.
Granted, the New Orleans neighborhood chicken joint started by Al Copeland decades ago has gone through some “makeovers” over the years and is now based in Atlanta, but for the most part it was still a “southern” brand. And, even though representatives for the acquisition say the brand will have its own designated supervision, it still feels like we’re saying goodbye to that old soul.
I could get nostalgiQ for the days as a child getting a Pal Pak with that pathetic rubber toy that never changed and calling my 2nd grade a teacher a “Sea Hag” before getting detention.
I could think back on all the mardi gras and bayou classics where my blood alcohol level wouldn’t accept anything but that greasy chicken skin to get my to my driveway safely.
But then I can also remember that the juice wasn’t always sweet. It became a gamble which chains were using the “official” biscuit recipe and who was just reheating them.
And the customer service was the absolute worst in the business.You have to really love the chicken if you’re willing to let people who hate you serve it to you. It wasn’t until Cane’s started popping up that New Orleans blacks learned we didn’t have to put up with abuse and disrespect just for our love of chicken. But Cane’s ain’t Popeye’s. We remained faithful. Even threw Annie the Chicken Queen.
But the most alarming aspect of it all for me is the globalization of our food. I don’t believe in eating what they feed the masses (or using free condoms they give away in urban areas). We’ve been organic for years here at the house with Popeye’s being that one guilty pleasure I could indulge in, and now The Beast has claimed even that. Mary J. Blige showed us what Burger King thinks of chicken.
So score one for capitalism. While fried chicken takes an “L.”
Post in the Qomments how Popeye’s has helped change your life. Come to the altar if the spirit moves you to do so.