1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. /
  3. Food

The Popeyes chicken sandwich is really hard to find in Tampa Bay

We tried.
A chicken sandwich at a Popeyes in Texas. Sadly, we were not able to get our hands on one in St. Petersburg. [ERIC GAY | AP]
Published Aug. 22
Updated Aug. 23

The first sign that our local Popeyes might be a little overwhelmed? Black block letters reading “NOW HIREING” on the marquee under the fast-food restaurant’s bright orange logo.

We were at the St. Petersburg location on Thursday around noon to try to get our hands on a Popeyes fried chicken sandwich. The Louisiana-born chain known for its fried chicken announced the new menu offering Aug. 12 with a tweet.

Soft, squishy bun, fried chicken breast, secret sauce, a pickle. Remind you of any other fast-food chicken sandwich? It reminded a lot of people on the internet of Chick-fil-A’s, and Chick-fil-A noticed too, tweeting praise for its signature sandwich in a not-very-subtle move.

Popeyes fired back. Mayhem ensued. Petty? Sure. Effective? Definitely. People got in political arguments online, bringing up the CEO of Chick-fil-A’s stance against marriage equality and the company’s contributions to certain political groups. The New Yorker even published an essay about this sandwich war.

Soon, Popeyes locations around the country began to run out of chicken sandwiches. Folks on social media were suddenly extolling the praises of Popeyes sandwiches, its extra crispy chicken and secret sauce the main sources of adoration.

We had to try one. So we took a trip to the one at 600 34th St. N in St. Petersburg. The parking lot was full, further jammed by a line of cars snaking around the parking lot in the drive-through line.

On the door, a sign printed on 8 ½- by 11-inch paper got right to the point: “Sorry for any inconvenience ... At this time we are currently out of chicken sandwiches until further notice.”

Popeyes in St. Petersburg [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]

The sandwich starts at $3.99 and is available nationwide at the chain’s more than 3,000 locations. It’s a permanent offering.

We tried Popeyes in Tampa, Pinellas Park and Largo. One had a similar sign on the door. Others confirmed via phone that they were also sold out.

The Popeyes at 28014 Wesley Chapel Blvd. had sold out, but a clerk claimed they were getting more at 11 a.m. Friday.

At 8968 State Road 52 in Hudson, a woman answered with, “Thank you for calling Popeyes. We do not have the fried chicken sandwich yet."

A sign on the door at a Popeyes in Tampa, at 2201 E Hillsborough Ave. [HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times]

An employee at the St. Petersburg Popeyes said they sold out of the sandwiches four days after getting them. They don’t expect them to be available again until Sept. 2. It’s a bun shortage that is causing problems, he said, not a lack of chicken.

He also indicated that the store wasn’t able to keep up with the increased foot traffic caused by the sandwich’s debut. That’s why he put up the hiring sign.


  1. The designs for Starbucks' 2019 holiday paper cup. Starbucks
    The coffee chain is offering the deal Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m.
  2. A citrus turkey surrounded by side dishes. Associated Press
    For the first time this year, a celebrity guest will answer phone calls on Nov. 14.
  3. Chive and Cheddar Buttermilk Drop Biscuits LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    They’d be a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
  4. Roasted acorn squash MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Consider a big pile of roasted veggies for your holiday table.
  5. The crowd lining Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa celebrates during this year's Gasparilla parade on Jan. 26. Times
    The weekly dispatch of things to do in Tampa Bay is better tailored to your interests.
  6. Kenny Lawson performs in 2016 as Juno Vibrantz during a drag show at Hamburger Mary's in Clearwater. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times (2016)
    Hamburger Mary’s rolls out its new Clearwater digs and drinks, plus Hernando Untapped, Rapp Brewing and Marker 48 Brewing celebrate milestones and Taste of Tarpon.
  7. Holmes Beach restaurant Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen will serve a three-course, pre-fixe Turkey Day menu. Courtesy of Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club
    In search of a holiday spread you don’t have to cook? Here’s your go-to list for Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin and more.
  8.            LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    It’s a hearty one-pot meal for the season.
  9. Cipresso is the modern Italian-American trattoria that recently opened at Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
    Aloha to Go, Kobe and Apple Spice also expanded locally, plus St. Petersburg’s Burrito Boarder has closed and a food hall is coming to Sundial.
  10. Death By Pepperoni Pizza. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Get ready for some dinner theater at this pizzeria. | Restaurant review