EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 22, 2012

Popeyes to open in Salem next week

By Alex Lippa

---- — SALEM, N.H. — Where one fried chicken fast food chain once stood another soon will take its place.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is moving into the space previously occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken at 481 South Broadway. The 46-seat restaurant is scheduled to open on Dec. 29.

“We are very happy to see these types of projects,” planning director Ross Moldoff said. “They are spending money and investing in the community.”

The Salem location will be the only Popeyes in the state. Previously, there were locations in Manchester and Nashua, which closed more than a decade ago.

“New Hampshire was in our plans from the start,” said Rob Parsons, a franchisee from Synergy Dining. “When we entered the Boston market, places like Manchester, Nashua and Salem were on our radar.”

Parsons owns five Popeyes franchises in Massachusetts and said they have been among some of the most successful chains in the nation. He expects that to continue in Salem.

“The demographics of Salem and of the surrounding trade area are ideal for Popeyes,” Parsons said. “Not only do we get Salem, but Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill all use Salem as a market.”

Popeyes applied for and received permits for the location last month.

The restaurant will be undergoing minor changes on the outside and substantial renovations to the inside.

The demand for a Popeyes in New Hampshire has been evident. A Facebook page, created more than two years ago with the title “Bring Popeyes Chicken to New Hampshire,” has had local users posting pictures and updates as the opening draws closer.

“It’s almost cult-like, the following of it.” Parsons said. “People are passionate about this brand. I run into people who remember where they were located in New Hampshire over 20 years ago.”

Although the KFC shut its doors earlier this year, he said he doesn’t believe Popeyes will have a similar fate.

“I don’t believe this location failed,” Parsons said. “I believe the previous owner failed at this location. We are confident in the brand and in our food.”

Moldoff said he’s happy to see commercial property reused.

“For the town, it is a good sign about the economy,” Moldoff said. “We encourage reutilizing older commercial properties. We’ve seen quite a bit of that this year.”

Since Popeyes was moving into a space previously occupied by a restaurant, it made obtaining permits much easier for them.

“If they wanted to go into a retail space, they would have needed to go through the planning board,” Moldoff said.

“This site was designed to handle Popeyes’ needs in terms of parking and circulation.”

Popeyes operates more than 2,000 restaurants worldwide.

In addition to chicken, the menu also features fried seafood and jambalaya.