Best known for its Louisiana spicy cuisine, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen announced the opening of its 15th restaurant in Puerto Rico since they first started operations on the island 13 years ago.
The new, 3,000 square-foot location in the town of Carolina represents an investment of $3 million, including location (land), construction and equipment. It joins another 14 stores in Carolina, Ponce, Mayagüez, Caguas, Santa Isabel, Trujillo Alto, Dorado, Hatillo, Santurce, Cupey and Bayamón.
The new restaurant will generate direct employment for 70 raising the local team to 800 employees islandwide, company executives confirmed.
“Despite common perception and belief, now more than ever, Puerto Rico is a hot and smart place to invest in because it consistently delivers,” said Eduardo Zúñiga, vice-president of operations for Popeyes Puerto Rico.
The local franchise is owned by Brodersen Management Enterprises, proprietary of 60 Popeyes restaurants — including Puerto Rico — in five markets: Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.
“We’ve found the right recipe for success by combining our winning blend of spices, quality products and loyal employees with a growing appetite of the Puerto Rican people for our menu, flavor and service,” Zúñiga said.
Puerto Rico continues to be an important market for investment and growth for Brodersen, which in the wake of Hurricane María last September, was able to reach growth of between 10 percent and 15 percent so far this year.
The company has invested $30 million since Popeyes first opened in Puerto Rico in 2005, generating $27 million in annual sales.
Zúñiga expects to grow the brand’s local footprint by opening two additional stores in 2018 in Hato Rey — at the former El Zipperle location — and Caguas.
The metropolitan area continues to be the center of attention for the executive’s growth strategy, with a projected investment of $6 million this year, which is in par with the chain’s recent growth rate on the island of three to four stores annually, he said.
Popeyes experience during and after Hurricane María have “added resilience, better response capabilities and even more faith in the market’s potential,” he said.
The Louisiana kitchen chicken and seafood quick-service restaurant chain was able to re-establish services in 12 of 14 stores two weeks after the storm, “thanks to the brand’s loyal and committed sales force and the well-constructed buildings which received minimal impact during the hurricane.”
“The overwhelming response of our employees, despite their own personal losses and challenges, was only surpassed by the support of the local clientele and suppliers,” said Zúniga, responsible for normalizing the local operations in the aftermath of the emergency.
“Our continuous success and growth in the Puerto Rico market, as well as previous experiences in recovering markets, are guiding principles for our commitment to the island,” Zúñiga said.
“Personally, and business wise it makes sense. Clientele loyalty and product acceptance continue to grow and demonstrate that if you provide quality products and a unique selling proposition, sales will follow,” he added.