The Reason Popeyes Restaurants Have a Balcony Over the Drive-Thru

The balcony is an iconic part of Popeyes’s architecture.
The balcony is an iconic part of Popeyes’s architecture. / Tech. Sgt. Mike Tateishi, Wikimedia Commons

Even after expanding across the United States, Popeyes has held onto to its Louisiana roots. The fast food chain's Cajun-inspired menu is just one example of this. When ordering fried chicken from your car, you can look up to see an homage to classic New Orleans architecture.

A tweet highlighting the balconies over the Popeyes drive-thru lines recently caught the internet's attention. The design features don't appear to be functional, and many of them lead to fake windows or nothing at all. Such embellishments may make sense at fine dining eateries, but their inclusion on a one-story fast food restaurant has left many customers confused.

According to Architecture + Branding, Popeyes borrowed the architectural element from New Orleans's French Quarter. Every year at Mardi Gras, revelers famously toss beads from the wrought iron balconies overlooking Bourbon Street. You won't see people throwing anything from the balconies at Popeyes, but if you're familiar with New Orleans, their design may bring the city to mind. Other features—like the orange awnings and green goose-neck lamps—make Popeyes buildings unique among fast food architecture.

Popeyes's connection with Louisiana is more than just a branding stunt. In 1972, Popeyes founder Al Copeland opened his first chicken joint in the New Orleans suburb of Arabi. The restaurant's slogan, “So fast, you get your chicken before you get your change,” paved the way for the pithier Popeyes slogan “Louisiana Fast.” Here are more facts about the fried chicken chain.