Last week I had the spicy chicken sandwich from Popeye’s and it went beyond the hype, it’s the best chicken sandwich in fast-food. Since my first sandwich on Friday, I had one on Sunday and Monday of this week. There’s no argument here, because you either like chicken done right, or you don’t! This is more than a simple sandwich. This is a way of life. In the south, we eat our chicken with some form of bread, a biscuit, a roll, sandwich bread and yes, even on a brioche bun. Over the past few years, the spice from their chicken seems to have made its way to Church’s, but they’ve found it once again with this chicken sandwich. The heat from the meat plus the spicy sauce had me re-thinking that last bite…but not for long!
Despite claims from Chic-Fil-A and Wendy’s that their sandwich is better, the closest competitor is KFC, though their breast in menial in comparison to this Thanksgiving appetizer from Popeye’s. The chicken is breaded and not battered like a patty or cutlet and finishes with the same crisp as golden fried chicken, not some low frills alternative. This is a chicken breast you can take off the bun and eat with your bare hands. Or for more refined diners, you could pair it with sides and create a four-star plated meal. You would never think of doing that with a sandwich from any of the chain’s competitors.
Choose either mayo or the spicy sauce and pickles to complete your sandwich. Voila! That’s it, flavor on a bun. The recipe is so simple, not even the employees can mess it up! Since the sandwich made its way onto the menu at Popeye’s, lines have been wrapped around the building and in the lobby as customers wait for it to be made freshly when ordered.
This conundrum would normally doom a franchise, but I’m sure it’s the words “for a limited time” that keep customers from leaving in angst before experiencing the life changing, palette altering sandwich! How could we subject ourselves to this level of ineptitude and incompetence? It’s the sandwich, y’all…it’s the sandwich!
So while the sandwich is here for a limited time, the lackluster customer service Popeye’s is known for seems to be here to stay! Numerous visits to various locations in our city yield the same result, each location seems eerily unprepared for a successful day. Worse than that, the locations seem to be staffed with recent high school graduates with no semblance of the foodservice industry or basic customer service. Asking for the manager in most locations will put you in touch with an overworked, underqualified manager who is doing their best (or perhaps, not) to wrangle their staff long enough to keep them focused on the orders on the screen.
That brings me to my next point, what’s with the work staff breakdown? There’s most often one person working a single register at the front, one person working the drive-thru, a cook, and what I’ll call an “auxiliary” person. They are doing something else, just not helping on the front. Once you place an order, you’ll see one person working to fill your (and every other) order on the front. On the backside, the drive-thru orders are being filled most often by the person working the window. In some locations, the person taking your order is also the person making it and when not if you order that delicious sandwich, stand still because you just threw a wrench in the space-time continuum, exponentially increasing your wait time and simultaneously depleting your patience.
Chick-Fil-A has been dethroned as king of the chicken sandwich but their customer service reigns supreme, a fact that may bring bird backsliders home to the gospel bird and the original chicken sandwich!