Focus group participants, he recalled, would say: “‘Why are you giving me a scone with chicken? I have no idea what you are doing.’”
“I guess if we ran with the research,” he added, “we probably wouldn’t have done it, if I’m honest.”
The team ultimately decided to put biscuits on the menu to keep the brand true to its Louisiana roots. “All that heritage plays well,” Mr. Crowley said. “The U.K., in our view, actually appreciates that great fried chicken is going to come out of Southern U.S.”
Raymond Braselman, who is from New Orleans, near where the chain was founded in 1972, and who has lived in Britain for 18 months, said he had not been able to find fried chicken that compared to what he grew up eating. “It’s definitely a bit of home right here in the U.K.,” he said on Saturday as he neared the front of the line. “So I’ve been waiting for it for about two months now.”
Popeyes, one of the largest fried chicken chains in the United States, was founded in Louisiana by Al Copeland, who was born into a poor family in New Orleans. His first attempt at a fried chicken restaurant, inspired by the opening of a KFC in New Orleans, was a failure. He tweaked his chicken recipe, adding cayenne pepper and Cajun-inspired spices, and changed the name to Popeyes. (He said he could not afford an apostrophe.) It was a hit.