Finger-licking chicken is set to be a huge hit in the North East when popular brand Popeyes debuts in the region, complete with a New Orleans-style party and an option to win freebies for an entire year.
The US chain which only arrived in the UK in November, making its London debut, has chosen Gateshead’s Metrocentre for what will be its third restaurant – and it has now announced its opening date and celebrations planned. The 98-seat restaurant will welcome the first customers on August 20 with a party and the company says it is “convinced that its first dining experience in the north will be an even bigger success than its first UK launch”.
And he’s sure to grab some attention with his plan to throw a party and give the first three people in line a chance to win free chicken sandwiches for next year. There will also be free same-day sandwiches and merchandise for the first 50 customers.
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The team behind the fried chicken giant found that customers were traveling huge distances to visit this first branch in Stratford, London, including diners from Newcastle and York as well as Birmingham and Cambridge. It reported “hour-long queues” in the weeks following its launch and the venue is now said to be the top performing of the company’s 3,700 restaurants worldwide.
The Metrocentre will be its fourth location in Britain – and its third stand-alone restaurant – after following Stratford with Romford and Chelmsford, all attracting thousands of queues, he said. And the Northeast opening will be marked in style with a New Orleans-style party starting at 11 a.m. that day, after doors open at 9 a.m.
Along with the free chicken sandwiches and merchandise, customers will be able to explore a menu featuring Popeyes original southern cookies and gravy. Popeyes UK chief operating officer Neil Williamson is a Geordie and he said he was “super excited” to expand into his home region.
He said: “Most global brands that come to the UK want to conquer the south first and often don’t consider the north until years later, so we’ve always thought it was important to establishing Popeyes in the north at the beginning stages of our UK expansion.
“The North East is an incredible part of the UK that has a lot in common with the brand’s New Orleans roots: fierce local pride; rich history; appreciation of a good party and above all a big heart.”
He added, “I believe our legendary menu and southern hospitality will truly win the hearts and taste buds of the North East.” This menu will use locally sourced chicken with its recipes based on the concept that good food takes time.
The chicken – which features in this sandwich – will be marinated for at least 12 hours in bold Louisiana seasonings, then hand-battered, breaded and fried in the style of its very own Popeyes. Gateshead customers will be able to taste the results from Saturday August 20 when the restaurant opens in the Metrocentre’s Yellow Mall Qube.
After launch, its hours will be 10:30 a.m. daily (11 a.m. Sunday), until 9 p.m. weekdays; 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Ben Cox of Sovereign Centros, Senior Asset Manager for Metrocentre, said: “We are delighted that Popeyes has chosen Metrocentre for its first restaurant in the North of England.
“This is another fantastic addition to our shopping centers and further demonstrates the strength of the leisure and dining offering at the center and its popularity with major international brands.”