Some answers about Popeyes plans in Rochester
Many Med City fans of the Popeyes chicken restaurant chain have been asking, repeatedly, when … or if … the eatery is going to start cooking its spicy chicken in Rochester. I may finally have some answers.
ROCHESTER — Sometimes the question is not WHY the chicken crossed the road, but WHEN will the fowl make an appearance.
Many Med City fans of the Popeyes chicken restaurant chain have been asking, repeatedly, when … or if ... the eatery is going to start cooking its spicy chicken in Rochester.
I deserve some of the blame for that anxiety and doubt. In early 2021, I wrote that Popeyes had filed plans to build a 2,265-square-foot restaurant in northwest Rochester at 5585 Chateau Road.
Then I followed that up with a column about a second Med City Popeyes location cooking in southwest Rochester on the former site of the Bakers Square restaurant by the ex-Toys R Us store.
Both of those columns were accurate, but my predictions for when either location would become a reality were a little bit … optimistic. Since there has been no construction on either site yet, peckish readers with ruffled feathers have been asking if Popeyes’ Rochester plans have flown the coop.
That has been a bit hard to answer, since the Florida-based Cajun eatery chain has not responded to questions about the Rochester plans. That is until an unexpected response fluttered into my inbox last week.
While the answer is not detailed, it lays out a “good news, bad news” situation for local fans of Popeye’s Cajun Sparkle seasoning.
I asked to confirm if both restaurants are still planned for Rochester and for an estimated construction timeline.
This is the response from the Popeyes Media Team:
“Thanks for reaching out. Regarding Popeyes restaurants in Rochester, MN, these are currently slated for a late 2023 opening. We will share updated information on estimated opening dates once we have it.”
After years of translating the cryptic language of PR-speak, I interpret that to mean, if things go as planned without any unexpected bumps in the road, the Med City could possibly have two Popeyes serving up its signature spicy chicken sandwich with Cajun beans and rice as a side and a strawberry cheesecake fried pie as dessert by the end of 2023. However, things can always change, particularly the current business environment.
So the bottom line is that the prospects look good for Popeyes, but fans will need to be patient.
Meanwhile, anyone with a taste for spicy chicken now can hit some of Rochester’s local restaurants, like the Nashville Coop, Birdie’s at The Workshop Food Hall or either of the two Rooster’s Barn and Grill locations.
Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to email@example.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.