Crystal Taylor won’t have to travel to get her Popeyes fix soon.
As the new general manager, Taylor will be able to simply step out of her office. Located in the former Carl’s Jr. location on Joe Harvey Boulevard in Hobbs, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is targeting Monday for the grand opening of its seventh restaurant in New Mexico.
“We’re trying to put (a Popeyes) in every major city in New Mexico,” said Adrian Aguirre, district manager for Legacy Chicken, parent company of the chain in the state. “Nov. 14 should be the day — 10 o’clock.”
Taylor and her crew were hard at work last week, setting up the new restaurant in time for not only the grand opening, but for its planned final health inspection, scheduled for Friday.
“We’re still putting away our first truck, setting up our stations,” Taylor told the News-Sun on Tuesday. “We got all our certifications done. (The health inspection) is all we’re waiting on and training our employees.
“I don’t think anything can push (the Nov. 14 opening date) back. We’re bustin’ our butts right now to get everything set up and ready.”
Legacy Chicken, based in San Diego, Calif., took over the rights to run Popeyes restaurants in New Mexico about a year ago, Aguirre said. Starting with two existing restaurants in the Albuquerque area, the company opened its sixth Popeyes eatery in Artesia about three months ago, Aguirre and Taylor said.
“Our goal is 30 stores (in New Mexico) in the next five years,” Aguirre said. Hobbs “is next on our list.”
When news broke several months ago of a Popeyes coming to Hobbs, excitement rippled across the community on different social media platforms. It’s like that every time a new Popeyes opens anywhere, Aguirre said.
“The first month at least, the lines have been insane” at other store openings, he said. “Lines (in Hobbs) should be to the road if not down the road.”
But what is it about Popeyes — founded in Arabi, La., in June 1972 — that gets people so fired up?
“It’s good customer service, speedy service,” Taylor said. “You can’t have people waiting around for their chicken. And I love Popeyes. I’d drive to Odessa for some Popeyes.”
Taylor was hired to run the new restaurant from the recently opened Dunkin’ Donuts, she said. She was a shift manager there and was hired in a similar position initially for Popeyes. But she was asked to interview for the general manager job after the person initially hired for that slot decided to pursue other opportunities, she said. Taylor brings 10 years experience in fast food management to the new Popeyes restaurant.
“For me, I like the blackened chicken strips, the red beans and rice,” Taylor said. “The flavor — it’s always fresh when I get it. I don’t never have no complaints on Popeyes.”
Aguirre said its a mix of the food and the culture that makes Popeyes so popular.
“Have you ever tried our mac and cheese? Or the chicken sandwich?” Aguirre said. “Also, it’s that Cajun hospitality you don’t get anywhere else.”