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Franchise Deep Dive: Popeyes Franchise Costs, Fees, Profit and Data

The Louisiana chicken concept has continued to grow over the span of five decades, and it continues to stand out as a key player in the fast-food chicken industry.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
Updated 11:11AM 02/06/23

LAST UPDATED: Jan 4, 2023



REPORTED COST TO GET IN: $1,086,000 – $3,545,800

REPORTED ROI (Item 19): $1,057,235 – $1,871,525

Popeyes originally started as “Chicken on the Run” in 1972. The first restaurant, which opened in Arabi, a suburb of New Orleans, didn’t perform too well. So, Alvin C. Copeland Sr. closed the doors for a bit, rebranded, and came back even stronger. Selling spicy, New Orleans-style chicken, Popeyes was born.

The first Popeyes franchise was opened just four years later, in 1976, also in Louisiana. Over the years, the brand has built out its iconic identity and continued to expand. In 1980, the “Love That Chicken from Popeyes” tagline that you almost can’t help but sing was debuted, buttermilk biscuits came along in ‘83, and the brand made it to Canada in ‘84.

Now, over 50 years since its inception, Popeyes remains a key player in the over $50 billion fast food chicken space.

How Many Popeyes Locations Are There?

At the end of 2021, there were 2,736 franchised units and 41 company-owned units. Though the company-owned unit count has remained steady since 2019, the company gained over 400 franchised locations between 2019 and 2021.

Throughout the years, the brand’s continued adaptability and willingness to welcome new flavors has served it well. Just as Copeland pivoted from Southern-style fried chicken to spicy, New Orleans-style chicken over 50 years ago, Popeyes continues to offer new, exciting flavors.

Many will remember the 2019 Popeyes chicken sandwich debacle. Popeyes drive-thrus had enormous lines, sales skyrocketed, and customers were even fighting — literally — over the in-demand entree. The sandwich quickly sold out systemwide.

Now, though Popeyes chicken sandwiches are a bit more accessible, the brand continues to expand its offerings by introducing ghost pepper wings, popcorn shrimp, cheesecake-inspired desserts and more.

What Is the Popeyes Business Model?

Popeyes was built on a foundation of chicken, and that continues to be its primary offering. Its chicken sandwiches, wings, nuggets and tenders are complemented by popcorn shrimp, desserts and traditional sides including mac and cheese, red beans and rice, coleslaw and buttermilk biscuits.

The concept makes itself available in a variety of venues, including freestanding, in-line and food court restaurants.

  • Freestanding: A freestanding Popeyes restaurant is any unit that is not an in-line convenience store, mall, food court or mobile kitchen restaurant.
  • In-Line: In-line Popeyes restaurants sit within strip malls or are within or attached to convenience stores.
  • Food Court: A food court Popeyes is any restaurant that sits within a food court. These can be found in airports, malls, military establishments and more.

How Much Can Popeyes Franchise Owners Make?

The financial representations in Popeyes’ 2022 Franchise Disclosure Document are divided into categories. All statistics are based on the December 31, 2020, to December 31, 2021 time period.

  • Freestanding Restaurants
    • A sample of 1,948 franchised units reported average annual sales of $1,871,525.
    • A sample of 27 company units reported average annual sales of $1,596,537.
  • In-Line Restaurants
    • A sample of 448 franchised units reported average annual sales of $1,725,197.
  • Food Court Restaurants
    • A sample of 96 franchised units reported average annual sales of $1,057,235.

For all franchised restaurants, average annual sales were $1,871,018, labor costs averaged $477,147, and restaurant operating profits averaged $397,238.

How Much Does It Cost To Open a Popeyes?

The total estimated cost to open a Popeyes restaurant is $1,086,000 – $3,545,800, including a $50,000 initial franchise fee. Here is a breakdown of the costs.

  • Initial Franchise Fee: $50,000
  • Real Estate: variable
  • Soft Costs: $10,000 – $400,000
  • Site Work: $40,000 – $650,000
  • Building: $700,000 – $1,600,000
  • FF&E, Signage, and Technology: $225,000 – $700,000
  • Initial Training: $17,200 – $24,200
  • Opening Supplies: $11,500 – $23,000
  • Insurance: $9,000 – $18,000
  • Utility Deposits: $3,000 – $50,000
  • Business Licenses: $300 – $600
  • Additional Funds — 3 Months: $20,000 – $30,000

What Is the Franchise Fee for Popeyes?

The initial franchise fee is $50,000

Who Is the Leadership of Popeyes?

What Helpful Articles Can I Read To Learn More?

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