IN 1972, NATIVE NEW ORLEANIAN AL COPELAND opened a small fried chicken stand in Arabi. He later began franchising the restaurant, which he called Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and by the end of the 1980s there were hundreds of Popeyes outlets around the country. When Copeland died in 2008, Popeyes had nearly 2,000 restaurants spread across 26 countries, and today it has more than 2,600.
Last week, the Canadian company Restaurant Brands International annouced it would purchase Popeyes for $1.8 billion. The company also owns the Canadian mega-coffee chain Tim Hortons. The deal is set to go through in April.
Despite being a chain, Popeyes has remained popular in New Orleans for its spicy chicken, "Cajun battered" fries and creamy red beans and rice. It's also a staple food, of course, on Mardi Gras parade routes.