When Hoodline and SFist ran stories last week about the Divisadero St. Popeyes closing for a mysteriously-sudden construction project, the comments came fast and furious. And many of them were pro-Popeyes. Yes, that’s right, here in San Francisco, where politicians dream up formula retail controls to ban chain stores and nine out of ten people you meet think of themselves as “foodies,” internet commenters wanted Popeye's $5 Bonafide Big Box to survive.
Hoodline reader Dendrobates blasted the idea of Popeyes becoming a “beerhaus-gastropub-faux-southern reclaimed barnwood den of bullshit.” Patrick Connors cut straight to the city’s class divide with: “I hope they sell artisan biscuits after the remodel.” Some dissenters even went so far as to point out that cheap fast food joints aren’t really known for being aesthetically, or nutritionally, pleasing. They were duly reminded that Popeyes was there long before the “upscale whites” moved in.
I’ll have to admit to my own bias here too. I was definitely rooting for the restaurant to stay, despite the fact that I’ve never set foot in there. A good friend of mine lives close by, and I’ve watched the area move upscale with a sense of unease. My friend is always telling me stories about evictions in the neighborhood, and we were regular patrons of Da’ Pitt BBQ, a formerly black-owned business now replaced by 4505 Meats. The folks behind 4505 seem pretty cool, but there is something unsettling about watching a neighborhood’s working class dining options steadily disappear. So I get why people who are more demographically apt to protest a chain store might leap to its defense. It's hard to imagine that anything replacing Popeyes would offer a meal in the $5 range.
But there was a problem with all of the hoopla: The restaurant wasn’t, and isn’t, closing.
Popeye’s Guest Relations Coordinator Keisha Young told me via email that “Popeyes #2794” at 599 Divisadero St. was only closed for “re-imaging,” and would be back to serving chicken, biscuits, and cole slaw soon. UPDATE: They are open now.
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