SIOUX CITY — After years of waiting, Sioux City landed not one but two Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants last year.
The Atlanta-based fried chicken chain opened its first store in August at 4202 S. York St. near Sam's Club and just off Singing Hills Boulevard and Interstate 29. Sioux City’s second Popeyes, 801 S. Hamilton Blvd., opened Oct. 23.
The opening of the Singing Hills location drew lines around the block for weeks after and required employees to direct traffic the first few days after opening to accommodate crowds.
Justin Laird, part of the ownership group that brought Popeyes to Sioux City in 2017 and Sioux Falls the year prior, anticipated this kind of hype.
About 6,500 pounds of chicken and 2,000 pounds of chicken tenders were ordered for opening day, an amount that a normal Popeyes’ restaurant goes through in a week.
Additionally, nearly 30 staffers were on hand to accommodate crowds that had gathered hours before the store’s 10:30 a.m. grand opening.
Lamuel Freemont of Macy, Nebraska, was the first person in line and stood outside the doors for two hours. He wound up leaving with a giant plastic bag filled with the Cajun delicacies the chain specializes in.
Before Sioux City’s two restaurants opened, Freemont typically got his Popeyes fix by visiting stores in either Omaha, Nebraska or Sioux Falls, South Dakota, so he was thrilled to see a closer restaurant open.
Gayland Stokes of Sioux City was the first person in line for the drive-thru and he waited about an hour.
He was disappointed that he didn’t receive a free meal — although he did receive a free soft drink — but was still happy with his decision to wait it out.
“It’s long overdue. I had always said, ‘Sioux City needed a Popeyes.’” Stokes said. “I hated having to go all the way to Omaha, and then when Sioux Falls got one I got hopeful.”
Popeye's, which bills itself as the world's second largest quick-service chicken concept, was started in New Orleans in 1972 and has grown to include more than 2,600 locations worldwide.
The chain is known for its New Orleans-style menu that features spicy or mild chicken, chicken tenders, fried shrimp and other seafood, as well as jambalaya, buttery biscuits and red beans and rice.