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Cartoon Culture

Popeyes in Puerto Rico


I can’t stand Popeyes Chicken, but if the restaurants looked like this one in Puerto Rico I might give them another try.

This one, recommended by one of our readers, is on Highway 3 between San Juan and Luquillo, hasn’t gone all “New Orleans”, but continues to embrace its animated namesake. I’ve been told Popeyes is very popular on the island, and all of them have some sort of reference to the character. Click on each photo for a larger image.

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(Thanks, George)

  • droosan

    I recall seeing at least one Popeyes restaurant in Florida which featured ‘Popeye’ characters on wall murals … but that was back in the 1980s.

    I definitely share your sentiments on their chicken, though; I’ve lived across the street from a Popeyes restaurant in Burbank for over 10 years .. and I’ve never seen the inside of it.

  • Ah, Puerto Rico. My home.

    I was there for a week last summer, and didn’t see a single Popeyes on my stay. Pity. My parents would’ve gotten a kick out of it.

  • Ugh, how can anyone stand Popeye’s chicken? Bojangles (a southeast US chain) at least takes time in making their chicken. Plus, they don’t throw random junk together and pass it off as chicken.

    But that design is really neat, I’ve never seen a location with all that Popeye stuff on it. Maybe it’s a regional thing? I don’t know if Popeye is that popular in PR.

  • Tom Pope

    True, “Popeye’s” is not great. However, it was named for “Popeye” Doyle, not “the Sailor.” Weird as that sounds.

  • I thought Wimpy was a burger man.

    My Spanish is a little rusty, but I think that sign translates to:
    “If you liked the service, let us know with a ring!”

  • Popeye’s is AWESOME you snobs!
    Great fast-food chicken.
    Great bisquits, breat beans and gravy.
    Honey’s Kettle is the best Fried Chicken in LA though.

  • I’m with you John! Popeye’s chicken is probably the best fast food fried chicken up there with Church’s. And the sides are better! If I ain’t got the time or cash for Roscoes, then Popeye’s it is. Puts KFC to shame.

  • Reg Hartt

    I started my career cutting and then cooking for the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario run by J. J. Hilsinger. My mom sent me down. I did my best not to get the job so, naturally, they hired me.

    5,000 chickens later I had Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS on 8mm. Another 5,000 and I had THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. And so on.

    That stuff when it is fresh is good. Once it sits under the heater forget it.

    Stumbled upon the first Popeye’s in Toronto a few years ago. Loved it so I am with John Sanford. In fact, I find it impossible to resist.

    Again, it has to be fresh. If it is not send it back and get it done right.

    I learned that from my boss in the Sault. He ran a tight ship. When he took us out to a competing restaurant and service was below par he made a noise.

    Remember they won’t take your money if it ain’t right. You should not take their food unless it is either.

    I once got the nadir of bad food at the Toronto location so I can guess where some of you might be coming from. I raised proper hell.

    Neat to find out the chain was named after Popeye Doyle. So how did the sailor get on board? The Toronto location has Popeye The Sailor all over the place as well.

  • red pill junkie

    Yes Kitschensyngk, that’s exactly what it says, and judging by the comments, I think it’s fair to say those restaurants are pretty quiet places! ;-)

    We have Popeye’s here in Mexico too, and my nephews love it. But then again you have to consider it’s either that or KFC, there aren’t a lot of choices if you are in the mood for fried chicken.

    And our restaurants are nowhere as pretty as the Puerto Rican displayed in the photos. A really good use of character images.

    PS: if you’re planning to visit Ixtapa Zihuatanejo this summer, may I recommend you to pay a visit to this restaurant. You will thank me for it, I guarantee it :-)

  • henry cabot henhouse iii

    how do u say “i will gladly pay u tuesday 4 some chicken & biscuits today” en espanol?

  • Interesting enough, there used to be a NYC Popeye’s Fried Chicken at 1600 Broadway, the old home of Fleischer Studios (the building was demolished a couple of years ago).

  • George

    I sent these photos in for Jerry to post. There were a few other interesting things about this Popeye’s that I forgot to mention to him.

    1. The employee uniforms had Popeye on the back of the shirt, a really nice image similar to the one on the Volume 1 DVD cover.

    2. The kids meal bag was covered in print of Popeye and all of the supporting characters, but the most interesting thing about the bag, was also the most interesting thing about the restaurant design itself…

    3. Nearly every animated incarnation of Popeye (or supporting characters) was represented somewhere in the restaurant, you may notice it in the group picture, Jeep in particular. Fleischer, Famous, even Gene Deitch, and Hanna Barbera’s Popeye & Son!

    It was a real trip to see all those incarnations decorating this Popeye’s, one would think WB would only want the current licensing designs for the characters, but who knows.

  • Bryan

    Wimpy would dream of ingesting that many carbs.

  • Brandon Cordy

    Well, blow me down.

    I haven’t seen a Popeye’s with, well, Popeye in _years_.

  • I remember back in the 80s, Popeye (the Segar character) was seen on Popeye’s boxes and such, but not inside.

    But Popeye’s Chicken is awful, especially compared to the major brands (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Church’s, and Hardee’s/Carl Jr’s). Actually prefer Moseberth’s (local institution around these parts that’s been around longer than KFC) or Farm Fresh (a local grocery chain in the Supervalu family) chicken.

  • Arnaud

    George :
    “Nearly every animated incarnation of Popeye (or supporting characters) was represented somewhere in the restaurant, you may notice it in the group picture, Jeep in particular.”

    Yeah, it’s probably some Stephen Destefano drawings. Watch here : http://stephendestefano.blogspot.com/search?q=popeye

    I saw a young girl in Paris wearing a pink Popeye shirt yesterday – and it looked like Destefano too. It was funny !

  • Chuck R.

    Call me a double Popeye fan: Love the cartoon, love the chicken.
    (I’m from Kentucky, and grew up on KFC, so that’s gotta mean something.)

    BTW, are all you detractors ordering the right stuff? It’s gotta be spicy, and you gotta get the mashed potatoes with gravy (with those tiny bits of andouille sausage, mmmmm) I also used to get the collared greens, but they took it off the menu :_(

  • Mela

    Wow, I never realized how many chickenshits afraid of spices read this blog. How anyone can say KFC is better than Popeyes is beyond me – Popeyes actually has this thing called ‘flavor’. It’s when food has an actual taste to it. But apparently, you’re all unfamiliar with that and thus terrified of it. John, Bob – at least we won’t run into these whiners while we’re trying to eat.

  • What droosan said. I too, have been inside the Popeyes that actually had character art around the place. There was even a little popeye emblem on the wax-paper lookin keyboard at the cash register.

    Also the best thing at Popeye’s is their spicy chicken strips.
    Even Foghorn Leghorn would eat those. With gusto.

  • joecab

    So wait, what IS the licensing connection between the restaurant chain and the character?

  • mat

    My first post!

    Back in the late 80s/ early 90s they had a commercial here in america that ended with the cartoon popeye with boxing gloves.

    Popeye laughs and says “love that chicken from popeyes”.

    I’ve been looking for that commercial on youtube but still can’t find it.

    Also a popeye’s near my hometown had the boxing gloves popeye picture on the wall.

    Wonder if it’s still there?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Growing up, I only knew of the Popeyes restaurant on the road with my dad in his truck as there would be a restaurant or two on the turnpike. Hardly remember if I ever saw the spinach-packin’ sailor on their packaging then, but thought the place was named after him anyway, and wondered why I didn’t have one back at home.

    Now there is one here, but it’s the New Orleans design aesthetic that’s leaves me with a dark, cold feeling inside while going in (feels like I’m in the breezeway of my house than a restaurant), nothing like the bright and cheerful visuals put on display at that Puerto Rican unit. I wouldn’t mind eating there if it wasn’t for the diet I just put myself on right now.

  • Keith Bryant

    The founder of Popeyes’ chicken, Al Copeland, passed away just a few weeks ago. He probably would have had a blast if he had seen this.

  • Coming from New Orleans (where it originated….and its founder, Al Copeland, just died a few weeks ago)….I can add a little insight on its (toon) origins! They (the chains) alllll began with his face as a parallel…. even with a local (exisiting) “Popeye & Pals” tv show having the chicken franchise as its sole advertizer. (A virtual 1-hour commercial!) The years have diminished him as its “spokes-face” —-but the chain is still (quite) popular!

    I miss the (toon) days of him promoting it!

  • Growing up in New Orleans (birthplace of both Popeyes and its founder Al Copeland), Popeyes chicken was damn near everywhere in the late 1970s and 1980. There used to be a Saturday morning program on WWL-TV (local CBS affiliate) called “Popeye & Pals” which was hosted by a ‘captain’ and had a studio audience of various Girl and Cub Scouts. It was basically an hour-long commercial for Popeyes chicken with various Famous Studios (few Fleischers, if I recall) Popeye cartoons included. I was even a guest on the show (with Officer Friendly) in 1984, when I was twelve years old. I also remember the kids meal box was made to look like a streetcar with all of the Popeye characters riding on it, including the Sea Hag!

    FYI, Al Copeland passed away in March of this year of (of all things) cancer of the salivary glands.

  • Love that sign and bell. I want it!
    That Destefano should draw the strip if he isn’t already.
    Last time I saw the Sunday funny they just stand around and yak and try to be topical.

  • Reg Hartt

    None of these chains got started selling folks bad food.

    What has happened though is that now and then an employee or franchise operator cuts below standard.

    When Colonel Saunders was alive he ran a tight ship in Canada (where he had more control). On more than one occasion he yanked a franchise’s license when it fell below par.

    When I began cutting for KFC in Sault Ste. Marie we used a band saw. The boss showed me how to cut the birds the Colonel’s way. The assistant manager showed me how to cut them fast. “Don’t get caught,” he said.

    I figured the smart thing to do was to learn to cut the Colonel’s way fast.

    Two people were supposed to work alternating between cutting and bagging. That worked out to 1 1/2 cents per bird (3 cents divided).

    I learned to cut and bag thus pocketing twice the money.

    One day the Colonel came to town. For half and hour he stood and watched as I cut and bagged.

    My boss, J. J. Hilsinger, used the heat lamp to keep food warm unlike many who will cook a pile of chicken for rush hour letting it dry out. It should also not be too greasy as it is meant to be “finger lickin’ good.”

    If you run into bad service anywhere COMPLAIN.

    Keep your cash register receipt. It has all the info you need. We are the eyes, ears and taste buds the companies trust most. Contact the proper people.

    I have done this with KFC on more than one occasion in Toronto. They have always been generous in response.

    I had gawdawful service once at Toronto’s original POPEYE’S (Yonge and Dundas) and had absolutely no support from their head office. That put me off going there again for over a year.

    I did go back though and it was way better.

    I agree about Church’s Chicken. There was a franchise in Toronto for a while. It blew everything off the map. Did not last, though. Damn it.

    I agree about the spicy chicken, the mashed potatoes and the gravy.
    Wicked! Love it.

    KFC had spicy for a while here too. Hated when they dropped it.

    Remember: When you get bad service, COMPLAIN.

    Do it politely. It will have a lot more force.

    I prefer to eat at home. If you are coming to Toronto get in touch. Take a look at my DINNER AT CINEFORUM site for the pictures of the fabulous dinner Chef Mark Sleep (who cooked for Tom Jones and Princess Di) created here from the legendary Salvador Dali cook book (http://www.cookbkjj.com/bookhtml/000578.html): http://groups.msn.com/dinneratcineforum/salvadordalisurrealismfilmfe.msnw

  • Keith Bryant

    What REALLY went wrong with Popeyes’ chicken is that the founder, Al Copeland, sought to buy out Churchs’ chicken. To do so, he needed more investors to back him up. Shortly after they helped him acquire Churchs’, they gave him the boot. Without the original guiding force, the use of Popeye , Olive and Bluto was fazed out.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    No wonder (funny Church’s is still around otherwise, noticed there are four locations in my town though I remember them more from the 80’s). It still would’ve been nice to have had that look in the restaurants than what they go with anyway. Shame I missed out on the Popeyes of yesteryear.

  • I live in Puerto Rico and I was there today. The structure is amazing. You guys should see it one day.

  • Fidel

    How weird. I am from Puerto Rico and was not aware that there was a Popeye’s franchise restaurant there, let alone one with artwork of all the characters painted on their wall and on their products. The next time I go visit my family I have to tell them to come here, since my dad grew up watching Popeye cartoons and they are among his favorite. Whenever they would go on TV, I would watch them with him. The irony is that I now live in Orlando and when they came to visit, they went to Popeye’s and they liked it, so just wait when I tell them there’s one very close to them…they will def do the road trip…my dad will be able to relive fond memories of the cartoons…Popeye, Olivia, Bluto, Cocoliso (Sweepea), and the rest of the gang! Hehe!

  • Jeremiah

    Well, Popeye’s tasted better to me in the 80’s when the chicken was actually hot and spicy, however the blandness of the mass of society has degraded its flavour but it is still better than the rotten chicken from Churches I know locally to have been regularly bought on clearance past expiration date from piggly wiggly. I think it is dependent on location and those behind the counter when it comes to chicken taste, I know Popeyes to taste better in Louisiana around Mardi Gras for some reason, I guess people come down here and go there instead of the lesser known places.

    I seem to remember Popeye popping up at Popeyes around an Olympics in the 80s.

  • I ate at that Popeye’s on Broadway years and years ago, and recall that it was good, but really greasy. Much greasier, in fact, than KFC tends to be. But it was still tastier than KFC (which, in Canada, has neither spicy nor extra crispy options), and occasionally I stop at the only Popeye’s I know of in my neck of the woods, which is on the I-95 in Southern Maine.

    These days though I avoid the chains altogether, and only eat fried chicken a couple of times a year, usually at small places that specialize in it, like on local lunchcounter here in town, or the fabulous A&K Lick-A-Chick (I kid you not, Google it) in Cape Breton.

    It’s bad enough I have to fight off the urge to eat artery-clogging Canadian cuisine like donairs and poutine…

  • Juan H. Lugo

    Thanks for all of your comments regarding our Popeyes restaurant in Puerto Rico. We now have 7 locations in the following cities Mayaguez, Ponce, Santa Isabel, Caguas, Carolina, Bayamon and Dorado. I am responsible for the operations of these great restaurants….If you have any additional comments or suggestion please e-mail me at [email protected].

  • Speaking as a lover of Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits, I would like to remind the haters of two important things to consider before going to one of their locations:

    1. Popeye’s is only, repeat, ONLY good when it is fresh from the fryer, and when you have it like that it is simply the best fast food fried chicken available. Period.

    2. If possible, try to avoid Popeye’s locations in inner cities because the staffs often do not give a damn about how they treat the customers or what they serve to them, no matter how unacceptable. Also, Popeye’s can be a gathering spot for the most egregious examples of black and Hispanic living stereotypes of the most appallingly negative kind, and it is a true embarrassment to witness such behavior. (Before anyone gets in their PC bandwagon and takes me to task for that statement, I happen to be a forty-five-year-old black guy, so I’m bitching about my own.)

    • Lisa

      I’m a Newark native (of Italian ancestry) and I gotta tell you, you can’t get much more inner city than downtown Newark. The Popeye’s down there is great! I’ve been eating lunch there for years. Good service, super-fresh chicken and sides, clean, etc. And, man, is that place busy!!! I’ve always found the staff to be very friendly and polite. :)

  • Also, since we’re talking fast food chicken, here’s my own assessment on the subject:


    I’ve never had Bojangles, so I can’t comment on their wares. I don’t think there are any in the NYC area, though there could be one or two in Queens or on Long Island…

  • D-colon

    great chicken, the best of Puerto Rico

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