A 19-year-old fast food boss on $50,000 a year gives his 4 biggest takeaways from his first 7 months of management

Fast-food boss Jason Cabrera sits at a long wooden table wearing a black shirt and smiles.
Jason Cabrera, 19, told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months managing a restaurant.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of a Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000.
  • He started out buttering toast for $9.25 an hour three years ago and now manages 22 people.
  • Cabrera told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months in the job.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a chicken restaurant earning $50,000 a year told Insider what he’s learnt in his first seven months on the job.

Jason Cabrera, general manager of the Allen, Texas branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, started out buttering toast for $9.25-an-hour at the restaurant in late 2018, and now manages 22 people.

Garrett Reed, the CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late 20s, early 30s.” However, he promoted three teenagers to general manager roles in recent months as the industry-wide labor shortage meant few experienced workers had applied.

Cabrera told Insider his four biggest takeaways from his first seven months:

He embraces his responsibility: “Anything that happens inside of that store is on me.”

When Cabrera accepted the job in January – one week after his 19th birthday – he said that he took on a raft of new responsibilities, including calculating labor costs, dealing with suppliers, and managing up to eight employees per shift.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me. Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me,” he said.

Cabrera said his role forced him to mature quickly.

“When I started working I was still a young kid that liked to have fun,” he said. “That was the problem. I had too much fun but I guess as I started getting into the role and whatnot, I matured so quickly without really noticing.”

Read more: The labor shortage has come for bank branches, forcing America’s banking giants to rethink how to stay competitive

Cabrera focuses on providing excellent customer service – and demands the same from his staff.

Cabrera said a big part of his job is devoted to keeping customers happy, and he looks forward to every Tuesday when Layne’s offers discounts, as he usually interacts with more guests.

“I really love seeing our parking lot filled with a bunch of cars,” he said.

And he demands the same attitude from his workers: “Every time I bring it up to someone I’m hiring, I let them know: ‘Hey, I care this much about guest service. You need to care this much as well if you’re coming into this job.'”

Two men stand behind the counter at a fast food restaurant smiling at the camera with their arms around each other.
Jason Cabrera, left, is general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas. Garrett Reed, right, is CEO of the chain.

He prefers to hire people into their first jobs

Cabrera said that he was “huge on recruitment” and prefers to hire people for whom it’s their first job. This is because it is easier to train them in Laynes’ way of doing things.

“I think it’s a really good thing to get those people in because it’s their first job and you can kind of build them up to be great,” he said.

Indeed, all of his team are aged between 16 and 21 but their relative youth has not led to a drop in Cabrera’s standards, which include providing top-tier service and working with a sense of urgency.

“I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” he said.

Cabrera’s biggest problem is finding enough workers

Cabrera said that, so far, he hasn’t dealt with any major problems in the job, except one – finding enough workers.

He told Insider he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, and checks hiring service Career Plug on a daily basis.

“I always refresh that page every day. I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any. There’s days I’ll get five,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 19-year-old fast food boss earning $50,000 a year breaks down what he does with his money, from paying off a 2020 Dodge Charger to saving for his parents to get a new house

Jason Cabrera smiles while wearing a baseball cap and a black t-shirt while working at his restaurant.
Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager for a Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the new general manager of a Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000.
  • Cabrera has bought a new Dodge Charger Scat Pack and is saving up to buy his parents a house.
  • He can now eat at nice restaurants and regularly attend Texas Rangers baseball games, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jason Cabrera started out buttering toast and washing dishes for $9.25-an-hour at a Texas fast food chain in 2018 – and now earns $50,000 as a general manager, after being promoted just one week after his 19th birthday.

Garrett Reed, the CEO of Layne’s Chicken Fingers, told Insider in a separate interview that the industry-wide labor shortage had pushed him to promote three workers aged 18 or 19 to manager positions earlier this year, including Cabrera.

Cabrera’s annual salary far exceeds the $28,860 that the average 16 to 19-year-old can expect to make, per US Labor Department data – and it also doesn’t include any performance-linked bonuses he might receive throughout the year.

Cabrera told Insider that his biggest expense since starting his new job was a Dodge Charger Scat Pack 2020, which he has been paying off in $1,360 monthly instalments.

“I plan on paying it off by next year. All my money I get, I really just throw it at my car. Not upgrading or whatnot, just paying it off,” he said.

Read more: Capitol Hill staff take second jobs with Postmates, Starbucks, and J. Crew to make up for their low salaries

Cabrera said that his new salary has also allowed him to eat out at nice restaurants, and attend concerts.

“I really didn’t have the option of going out as much as I do now,” he said.

In particular, Cabrera enjoys attending baseball games after work to see his favorite team, the Texas Rangers, in action. His new paycheck means he can do this far more regularly.

“I would only go to one game a season but now I go to like 12 games a season,” he said.

Cabrera said that he is also saving up money to fulfil two long-term financial goals: buying his parents a new house, and owning his own Layne’s franchise restaurant.

He said that he still lives with his parents rent-free, five minutes away from the restaurant, and they often stop by to check on him when he works double shifts.

“My goal is to eventually hopefully buy them a house,” he said. “I’d love to do that for them.”

When he told his parents last year that he did not plan on going to college, they were initially upset, Cabrera said. But this decision has “paid off a year later,” he said, referring to his new manager role.

“They’re proud, you know, they’re not going too crazy over it, but they’re pretty happy about it,” he said.

Cabrera also estimates that it could take five years to save up enough money to open a franchise.

“If I’m smart with my money, which I have been, I’ll probably get there real quick,” he said.

Cabrera’s new role involves managing 22 people, checking their payroll, calculating inventory, and dealing with suppliers, among other tasks.

He embraces this responsibility: “Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me. Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 19-year-old restaurant boss started out buttering toast for $9.25 an hour – now, he earns $50,000 and manages 22 people. Here’s what his workday looks like.

Jason Cabrera smiles while wearing a baseball cap and a black t-shirt while working at his restaurant.
Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager for a Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, earns $50,000 a year and manages 22 people at Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas.
  • Laynes’ CEO said he has made three teenagers managers this year amid the labor shortage.
  • Cabrera said some customers are “shocked” at his young age. Here’s what his day looks like.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jason Cabrera became a manager of a Texas fast-food restaurant just one week after his 19th birthday. He started out buttering toast and washing dishes for $9.25 per hour, and now earns $50,000 a year in his senior role.

Cabrera, who joined the Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in late 2018, took the job in January, as a severe labor shortage pushed the restaurant’s CEO to promote three of its teenage employees to managers.

The young manager took Insider through his average workday, from making a lemonade batch at 8 a.m. to checking in with some of the 22 employees he manages.

At 8 a.m., Cabrera gets into the restaurant before his team arrives and makes a big batch of lemonade for customers.

A parking lot outside a fast food restaurant with a white and red facade on a sunny day.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant in Allen, Texas.

By 10.30 a.m., all team members have arrived – Cabrera usually manages about eight per shift – and the restaurant is open for its first customers.

Cabrera said that managing 22 people, all aged between 16 and 21 years, forced him to mature quickly.

A restaurant worker wears a black and white baseball cap while working
Cabrera’s staff are all aged between 16 and 21 years.

“When I started working I was still a young kid that liked to have fun,” he said. “That was the problem. I had too much fun but I guess as I started getting into the role and whatnot, I matured so quickly without really noticing.”

Two men work in a restaurant kitchen deep frying food.
Cabrera said that he is on his feet from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.

From 10.30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Cabrera is constantly moving, checking in with his team, and dealing with guests.

Asked whether he finds being on his feet all day tiring, Cabrera said that he doesn’t “feel anything” because he’s “really young.”

“Probably once I, you know, start getting older then I’ll start having back problems,” he said.

Two customers in a fast food restaurant with red brick walls are served their food.
Cabrera said that Tuesdays are often very busy with customers when Layne’s offers promotional deals.

On Tuesdays, when Layne’s offers a range of meal deals, including discounts of up to 20%, the restaurant is usually busier.

Cabrera said he particularly enjoys these days because he gets to interact with more guests.

“It’s something I get to look forward to every week,” he said. “I really love seeing our parking lot filled with a bunch of cars.”

A fast food worker wears a grey top and black and white baseball cap while dispensing a soft drink.
Cabrera manages up to eight workers in any given shift.

Cabrera said he enjoys dealing with “shocked” customers who asked to see the manager and don’t expect to see “a 19-year-old kid running a whole store.” Several customers have asked him for his age.

“I love seeing the reaction. It’s really funny,” he said. “They start complimenting me and just letting me know, hey man, when I was your age I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.”

A fast-food worker prepares fries for the deep-fat fryer in a restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera helps out in the kitchen and usually prepares a big batch of lemonade for customers when he arrives at 8 a.m.

At 3 p.m., Cabrera retires to the restaurant’s office to do paperwork, which includes calculating labor costs, ordering inventory, and tallying up sales and drive-through times.

“I crunch those numbers down every week. So the next week we have our corporate meetings here at the office and we go over those numbers,” he said.

A fast food restaurant interior with light wood panels and red walls.
The Allen branch of Layne’s Chicken Fingers is one of eight across Texas.

Cabrera said he has spent much of his time recently trying to recruit workers. Garrett Reed, Layne’s CEO, previously told Insider that he hiked wages for shift managers by 17% to $14-per-hour to entice applicants amid an industry-wide labor shortage.

A fast food worker wears a grey t-shirt and red baseball cap while in the restaurant kitchen.
Cabrera said that much of his time recently has been spent trying to find workers.

At 4 p.m., Cabrera hands over to a shift manager and often goes to watch a baseball game.

After work, Cabrera watches the Texas Rangers in action. His new paycheck means he can do this far more regularly.

“I would only to go to one game a season but now I go to like 12 games a season,” he said.

Read more: I’m a millionaire businessman who was arrested for protesting with restaurant workers. We demand better wages for the employees running our economy.

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

Cabrera said he is saving part of his $50,000 annual salary to buy his parents a house and eventually open his own Layne’s franchise.

“If I’m smart with my money, which I have been,” he said. “I’ll probably get there real quick.”

A customer wearing a white shirt sits on a bench in a fast food restaurant against a white wall.
Layne’s Chicken Fingers has promoted three workers between 18 and 19-years-old to general manager positions in 2021 amid a labor shortage.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 19-year-old fast food boss says he expects to lose half his staff in the next few weeks, as the labor shortage continues to hammer restaurants

A fast food restaurant manager wears a black t-shirt and baseball cap while sitting at a high table.
Cabrera said that he has matured quickly since taking on the general manager role.

  • Jason Cabrera, 19, is the general manager of Layne’s Chicken Fingers in Texas, earning $50,000 a year.
  • Cabrera said that his biggest problem is finding enough workers in the labor shortage.
  • He expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college, he said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 19-year-old manager of a Texas chicken restaurant told Insider that he expects to lose half of his staff in the next few weeks.

Jason Cabrera runs the Allen, Texas, branch of the Layne’s Chicken Fingers restaurant chain, which promoted teenagers to management roles because of a severe staff shortage. Cabrera, who earns a $50,000 salary, estimates that he’ll need to replace 11 of his 22 junior employees in the coming weeks, with many going off to college out of state.

The labor shortage was the biggest challenge he faces as the restaurant manager, he said.

Garrett Reed, CEO of Layne’s, told Insider in a separate interview that he would “usually have at least a handful of seasoned managers, people in their late-20s, early-30s” running his eight restaurants, but the labor shortage led him to promote three workers who are 18 or 19 to manager roles, including Cabrera.

Reed has found it “tough to compete” with places like Walmart and McDonalds, which can afford to offer higher wages, and many of his workers have left to join bigger companies, he said.

Read more: Leaked documents show how McDonald’s plans to win the 2021 chicken-sandwich wars. Here’s everything we know about the looming fast-food battle.

Cabrera took on the role a week after his 19th birthday in January.

He told Insider that he’s “huge on recruitment” and uses hiring service CareerPlug to find workers.

“I always refresh that page every day,” he said.

“I’m always looking for someone and there’s days I won’t get any, there’s days I’ll get five.”

In recent months, restaurants have struggled to find enough workers to keep up with customer demand, leading some owners to hike wages and offer large sign-on bonuses to entice employees.

Hiring appears to be picking up: Food services and drinking places added 194,000 jobs in June, accounting for more than half of all job gains in leisure and hospitality industries that month, per Labor Department data. However, three in four independent restaurants are still struggling for workers, according to a recent poll.

A fast food worker prepares fries for the deep fat frier in the restaurant kitchen.
Jason Cabrera told Insider that he expects to lose 11 members of staff in the next few weeks as they go off to college.

Cabrera insists a lack of staff has not led to a drop in standards. “I make sure when I do my interviews and whatnot, people know that I have high standards,” Cabrera told Insider. He said that he looks for staff who care about the quality of service, and work with urgency.

Cabrera’s annual earnings are far above the $9.50 per hour “learning wage” that Reed said his entry-level employees receive, and the $28,860 per year the average 16 to 19-year-old can expect to make in the US, per Labor Department data.

His salary doesn’t include any performance-linked bonuses general managers might receive at the end of the year.

Cabrera said that he has struggled in past jobs to be taken seriously due to his young age, but has embraced the responsibilities of his new role.

“Just knowing that anything that happens inside of that store is on me,” he said. “Anything that goes wrong, anything that goes right, it all comes back to me.”

Cabrera told Insider that he’s saving up so he can open his own Layne’s franchise. “I just want to see how fast I can get there,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Costco says it’s getting more expensive keep the rotisserie chicken at $4.99, but it won’t raise the price

Costco employee chicken
  • Costco CFO says that the company is under “inflationary pressures” with shortages.
  • The company says it won’t increase the $4.99 rotisserie chicken price.
  • The rotisserie chicken is sold at a loss to draw in customers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chickens are getting more expensive for the store to stock, according to Chief Financial Officer Rich Galanti.

Inflation and rising costs are making nearly everything more expensive for consumers, from meat and cheese to electronics. Big box stores like Costco aren’t immune to these higher costs, some of which may be passed on to customers, Insider’s Áine Caine reported.

Costco is under “inflationary pressures,” Galanti said in an earnings call, including “higher labor costs, higher freight costs, higher transportation demand, along with the container shortage and port delays,” along with widespread shortages.

Read more: Ghost kitchens operators like CloudKitchens, Kitchen United, and All Day Kitchens are expanding their business models beyond the rent-a-space model as competition heats up

The price of a rotisserie chicken should stay the same for customers, though Galanti says “there’s been some pressure on some cost components of these items. So those are already impacting our margins a little.” The chickens were already sold at a loss for Costco – the $4.99 price has remained the same since 2009, even as costs of labor and production have increased.

“When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 [million] to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99,” Galanti said in 2015. The chickens are sold at a loss, but they, along with gas and food court items, draw customers into stores where they might make other more profitable purchases.

The rotisserie chickens are also a Costco staple. The big box store sold 87 million in 2017, and 91 million in 2018. To keep costs as low as possible, Costco opened the $450 million facility in Nebraska in 2019, which processes about 2 million chickens a week, with plans to eventually supply nearly half of the chain’s total chickens.

As prices increase, hot dogs are the other staple Costco customers can count on to stay at the same price, even as beef costs surge as much as 20%. The hot dog and soda combination has been priced at $1.50 since 1985.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tucker Carlson invited a ‘poultry enthusiast’ onto Fox News to ridicule CDC guidelines about not kissing chickens amid a salmonella outbreak

tucker carlson chicken
A shot of a Tucker Carlson Fox News segment on May 21, 2021.

  • Amid a salmonella outbreak linked to chickens, the CDC has warned Americans not to kiss the animals.
  • The news prompted Fox News’s Tucker Carlson to interview a “poultry enthusiast” who bashed the CDC.
  • “Who are these chicken touchers out there that the CDC is concerned about?” Carlson said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tucker Carlson’s last news segment ruffled some feathers.

The Fox News host invited Tiara Soleim, a “poultry enthusiast” and former contestant on “The Bachelor,” onto his show Friday night to discuss her love for cuddling chickens and her distaste for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The interview came just one day after the CDC announced that a dangerous salmonella outbreak had sickened people in 43 states, and that this outbreak had been linked to backyard poultry.

“Like all obedient Americans we’re pretty dialed into what the CDC has to say about our lives,” Carlson said in his segment. “For once it has nothing to do with the coronavirus. This guidance have to do with chickens.”

The agency cautioned people: “Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them,” adding that such behavior could enable Salmonella germs to get into your mouth.

“Now that raises the question, who are these chicken touchers out there that the CDC is concerned about?” Carlson said before introducing his special guest.

Soleim, who owns 30 chickens, wasn’t pleased with the CDC’s warning.

“I’m not a huge fan of it because I’ve been handling chickens since I was about 4 years old. And I’ve been kissing them, snuggling them, shoving my face in them and I’m fine. People around me are fine. And I don’t see a problem with it,” she told Carlson.

She even brought a rooster named Bad Boy Halo onto the show with her.

‘Just looking for something else to control’

tucker carlson chicken
A shot of a Tucker Carlson Fox News segment on May 21, 2021.

During the show, which labeled the CDC guidance a “clucking disaster,” Carlson asked his guest if she felt targeted.

“It feels like you’ve been singled out by the CDC for criticism. How does that feel?” he said.

Soleim was quick to retort that the CDC was “just looking for something else to control.”

At least 163 people have fallen ill and 34 people have been hospitalized so far during the salmonella outbreak, according to the agency. It warned Americans that chicken and ducks “can carry Salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean.”

Salmonella
A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella Typhimurium (in red) invading human cells.

Salmonella is a bacteria that causes an illness called salmonellosis, which gives people diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.

It lives in the intestines of people and animals, according to the CDC. People tend to get infected after they’ve eaten contaminated food or touched infected animals’ or those animals’ poop.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leaked documents reveal how McDonald’s plans to win the 2021 chicken sandwich wars. Here’s everything we know about the looming fast-food battle

McDonald's New Crispy Chicken Sandwich
McDonald’s new chicken sandwich looks a lot like Chick-fil-A’s menu item.

  • McDonald’s new and improved chicken sandwiches will roll out nationally in late February, according to a leaked menu viewed by Business Insider. 
  • The memo confirms the sandwich will take a page out of Chick-fil-A’s playbook, with the same ingredients, similar spicy and deluxe variations, and plans to serve the sandwich in a foil bag. 
  • Chains including KFC, Wendy’s, and Burger King have either been testing or rolled out new chicken sandwiches in recent months. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

McDonald’s is taking a clear aim at Chick-fil-A in the 2021 chicken sandwich wars, according to an internal memo viewed by Business Insider. 

The fast-food giant will launch three chicken sandwiches, made with a new “thicker and juicier” chicken fillet, on February 24, McDonald’s confirmed to Business Insider. Advertising for the new and improved chicken sandwiches will roll out in early March. 

The new Crispy Chicken Sandwich will feature chicken and crinkle-cut pickles, served on a buttered potato bun.

If the sandwich sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve eaten Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, which also features the simple combination of a chicken fillet, pickles, and a buttered bun. For comparison, Popeyes tops sandwiches with mayo, as do most fast-food chicken sandwiches. 

McDonald’s will also debut the Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich, made with crinkle-cut pickles and new spicy pepper sauce, and the Deluxe Crispy Chicken sandwich, with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and mayonnaise. (Chick-fil-A also serves a spicy sandwich, made with spicy seasoned chicken, and a deluxe sandwich, with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and American cheese.) 

Except for the deluxe option, the new crispy chicken sandwiches will be served in a foil bag – a presentation style that Popeyes and Chick-fil-A use, but that McDonald’s has previously eschewed. 

Read more: 95% of McDonald’s franchisees vote to cut all ‘non-essential’ contact with corporate in protest over millions in new costs

Here’s everything we know about the competitors in the 2021 chicken sandwich war

Wendys_new_Classic_Chicken_Sandwich
Wendy’s new Classic Chicken Sandwich.

In November, McDonald’s announced plans to introduce the Crispy Chicken Sandwich in the US in early 2021.

“Developing a reputation for great chicken represents one of our highest aspirations,” McDonald’s head of its US business Joe Erlinger said at the time. “We want customers to choose McDonald’s for chicken because of the unique, craveable flavor that they can only get under the arches.” 

McDonald’s isn’t the only chain gearing up for a battle of the chicken sandwiches in 2021. Here’s the lineup of chains that are testing sandwiches or have already rolled out an updated chicken sandwich: 

  • Burger King was spotted testing a new chicken sandwich in October. UBS analyst Dennis Geiger said in a note in December that a 2021 chicken sandwich launch is sparking “notable optimism” among franchisees. (Burger King declined to give further details on the potential launch, saying in a statement: “The King must eat like a king. So, we’re constantly testing new items to satisfy his cravings.)
  • KFC launched a chicken sandwich test in May. “We wanted a chicken sandwich that really lives up to our legacy as the fried chicken experts and, let’s face it, ours wasn’t the one to beat,” KFC US Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Zahumensky said at the time in a press release.
  • Wendy’s released a new chicken sandwich in October. The new “classic chicken sandwich,” replaced the “homestyle chicken sandwich” on Wendy’s menu. 
  • Church’s Chicken added its first-ever chicken sandwich to the menu in late October. 
  • Jack in the Box debuted the Cluck Sandwich in December. The new sandwich is thicker than the chain’s existing chicken sandwich. 
  • Zaxby’s is serving a new chicken sandwich in test locations and announced in December that the sandwich will roll out nationally in 2021. The chain tweeted in October: “the chicken sandwich war ain’t over yet.” 
  • Whataburger rolled out a new spicy chicken sandwich in September. 

New sandwiches will have to compete with Chick-fil-A and Popeyes’ menu items

Popeyes vs chick fil a chicken sandwiches
Popeyes (right) challenged Chick-fil-A’s title as the king of chicken sandwiches last year.

Two chains that haven’t made major chicken-related announcements are Chick-fil-A and Popeyes. 

Chick-fil-A calls itself the home of the original chicken sandwich. Unsurprisingly, the chain hasn’t made any major updates to its classic sandwich in decades. As a private company, it is difficult to know how Chick-fil-A has fared financially in 2020 – but, as one of the industry leaders in drive-thru technology, it is likely thriving in the pandemic. 

Popeyes, meanwhile, is still basking in the success of its 2019 chicken sandwich launch. In late October, parent company Restaurant Brands International reported that Popeyes sales were up 21.5% in the most recent quarter. Restaurant Brands International CEO José Cil said on a call with investors that the chicken sandwich continued to be “the largest single driver of sales growth.” 

“This result comes on top of 10% comparable sales growth during the third quarter of 2019, which is when we initially launched the chicken sandwich in August,” Cil said. “Millions of people have been coming back for the chicken sandwich, but it’s been really exciting to still see a significant number of first-time purchasers in Q3.”

What does it all mean? 

Popeyes Chick fil a bags
The poultry battles have only just begun.

Industry insiders have been keeping a close eye on the chicken sandwich wars. 

Steve Crichlow, founder of Compass Restaurant Consulting, wrote in a November report that increased competition will impact Popeyes’ “domination of the Chicken Sandwich market.” 

“From what we have tested and heard (excluding McDonald’s version), we expect Wendy’s to have the biggest impact,” Crichlow wrote. “Not because it is better but rather because Wendy’s customers are very loyal to the Brand and those that might be currently going to Popeyes to get their Chicken Sandwich fix will come back to Wendy’s.”

Chicken breast prices are at five-year highs, according to FreightWaves’ newsletter The Stockout, reaching $3.41 per pound. Fast-food chains’ success during the pandemic have helped meatpackers regain lost restaurant sales, Bloomberg reports. 

“We are encouraged by reports of a chicken sandwich war in 2021,” Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson said on a call with investors in mid-December. 

Sanderson – the chief executive of one of the largest poultry producers in the US – added: “We wish all the participants much success.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider