Fried chicken chain Popeyes has got everyone in Manila excited ever since they announced their comeback in August last year, several years after closing up shop in the city. And to the delight of its fans, the fast-food restaurant finally opened its first store in the comeback in Arcovia City, Pasig City yesterday.
The Coconuts Manila crew were there by 9am, one hour before it was set to open at 10am and saw that there were already three people ahead of us.
After around 45 minutes, the line became longer. One of the customers who arrived early was Marites Galvez, who told Coconuts that it was her first time trying Popeyes. “I wanted to try and see if it’s delicious,” she said, while admitting that she’s actually a big fan of Filipino Filipino fast-food giant Jollibee which is known for its fried Chickenjoy.
Couple Raymond Santos and Mit Aseron wanted to try Popeyes because the former ate at the fast food a couple of years ago during a visit in the United States. “We just live here in Pasig and we wanted to try it. We wanted to try the chicken,” said Santos.
Students Myka Sarmiento and Gerald Sacramento are also Pasig residents who dropped by to try Popeyes food. Sarmiento is the one more familiar with Popeyes because she grew up in Saudi Arabia where the restaurant has a ubiquitous presence.
“It’s popular there. When I came home here in the Philippines, I kept looking for it, and since this is the first store that they opened, I’d like to try it,” she said. Sacramento, on the other hand, went there to accompany her and see why it’s her favorite fast-food.
After an hour of waiting, the customers were allowed to go inside the restaurant in groups. The store’s interiors were made vibrant with colorful paintings placed on its walls and multi-colored chairs. It’s spacious and looks like it could sit about 150 people. The staff was very friendly and each person was ready to help customers, from showing the toilet rooms to answering mundane questions.
After placing our orders, we chatted with Popeyes Philippines Chief Operating Officer Rami Chahwan, who said that they chose to open their first restaurant in Arcovia City because of its central location.
Chahwan believes that it’s the quality of products that brought so many people to Popeyes. “Our unique taste is attractive. I also think because it’s an American brand, people are attracted to that as well. Filipinos have a tendency to like American stuff that’s [just] coming in from outside.”
Judging by the taste of what we ordered, Popeyes is doing things right. Instead of just ordering the fried chicken, we ordered a combo that also included spaghetti, a drink, and cookies (PHP145/US$2.76). The fried chicken was crispy and lightly breaded. It was tender and the Cajun gravy that we were given was flavorful without overwhelming the taste buds. Undoubtedly, the fried chicken should be on the top of any foodies’ list.
The spaghetti was a pleasant surprise. Chahwan the COO said the spaghetti was “Philippinized,” and is a Manila exclusive.
What made it amazing was that it was cooked in the Filipino way — slightly sweet and with ground meat thrown in. The pasta was tender and cooked just right. It’s very similar to the homecooked spaghetti served in birthdays and town fiestas. Children (and even adults) would love it.
Because the Coconuts crew arrived early, Popeyes gave us three free biscuits. Dipped in sweet honey sauce, they made for a perfect side dish to our meal because they were fluffy and buttery. They also gave us biscuits drizzled in yummy dark chocolate and another with white chocolate, which are fit for dessert.
Customers who are planning to visit Popeyes could also try their other offerings such as their burger meals (from PHP92/US$1.75) and their buckets and bundles (PHP489 – PHP699/US$9.31 – US$13.30), which combine fried chicken, rice, spaghetti, and drinks.
Chahwan said the other branches are still under construction but will include stores in Eastwood and Vertis North in Quezon City, Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City, SM San Lazaro and SM City Manila in Manila, and Kroma Tower in Makati City.
Popeyes is at Arcovia City, 9 Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City.
Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 10am to 10pm