For more than 20 years, a Friendly’s Restaurant with its familiar brick façade and white gable roof maintained a presence near the southern end of Washington Avenue.
Then, a closed the restaurant early this year.
And although North Haven residentsof what they would like to see on the site, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is now making plans to move onto the property. Having filed site plans with the town for the 173 Washington Ave. address, Popeyes gained the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission to move to the property this month.
The fast-food restaurant will add a Cajun flair to a thoroughfare that, over the course of the summer, has seen the addition of several eateries — fast-food and otherwise, and each with a distinctive bent.
With its Asian-American menu, a & Supreme Buffet remains under construction virtually across the street. North Haven restaurateur Edward Varipapa announced that a , an extension of the well-regarded restaurant on New Haven’s Long Wharf with its Italian-American cuisine, will occupy a spot on Washington Avenue farther north, and the , its menu rife with ribs, burgers and nachos, opened in June just south of Scrub Oak Road.
Amid all the changes, has operated on Washington Avenue for 16 years. “It is a commercial strip,” said Patty Manciero, events coordinator, musing on the reason for the flurry of new eateries on the street.
Popeyes — named after the Detective James “Popeye” Doyle that actor Gene Hackman portrayed in the 1971 film “The French Connection” — began in St. Bernard’s Parish in New Orleans and blossomed only after Cajun seasoning spiced up its chicken-and-biscuits menu.
Lately, Popeyes Lousiana Kitchen, which is owned by AFC Enterprises, has begun to expand to more suburban areas, Alicia Thompson, vice president of communications at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens, confirmed yesterday. A rebranding focusing on the company’s Louisiana heritage resulted in the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen name and a new logo that situates an orange P between a pair of fleur de lis.
This year, Popeyes added a Louisiana Leaux menu line featuring naked chicken wraps and a BBQ chicken po’ boy, mindful of the health-conscious fare that consumers increasingly seek.
In the process, the growth in domestic sales at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen has outpaced the increase in sales overall in quick-serve restaurants, according to the company’s Aug. 15 quarterly report.
All these attributes seem to make it a good fit for the North Haven property, where a price war may soon be underway. The Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet prides itself on buffet lunches that sell for $6.59, but a combo or sandwich at Popeyes can be had for less than a five-dollar bill.