Fights across the nation have persisted outside Popeyes restaurants following a fatal stabbing in Maryland that took the life of a customer, and in a statement Wednesday the restaurant is urging its customers to follow the "Golden Rule."
The stabbing and the other fights are connected to the return of Popeyes’ chicken sandwich — after the original run caused the supply to run out in a mere two weeks. The demand for the sandwich has apparently caused several fights, many of which were recorded and have since circulated online.
But the company is asking its customers to show some patience and love each other as much as it loves the restaurant.
“The Chicken Sandwich came back on Sunday and will be available for the long term,” a Popeyes spokesperson said in a statement to Fox Business on Wednesday. “We love our fans and know they love us — we’re asking everyone to share that love with each other and be understanding as the team works hard to get the sandwich back in every one of our guests’ hands.”
The unrest experienced by customers as they wait for their sandwiches seems like it could be a mounting public relations nightmare, but one expert said the viral fights aren't as bad as it seems.
The resulting furor over the chicken sandwich's return may not be the attention the chain wanted to be associated with its menu item, Eric Yaverbaum, head of Ericho Communications, told Fox Business on Wednesday. But these incidents aren’t indicative of a looming PR crisis for the chain, rather “they just showcase poor decision making by specific Popeyes customers,” Yaverbaum said.
“Given the sheer virality of the sandwich, it’s easy to play up isolated incidents of insanity as the overarching narrative of chicken sandwich story," he said. The company “would be better suited by not leaning into the sensationalism or avoiding exploiting this latest round of news altogether.”
Popeyes appears to be doing just that.
The company's social media profiles make no mention of the stabbing death in Maryland or other fights that have broken out at other locations. The company's Facebook and Twitter have recent posts promoting the sandwich, but there is no statement about the death or the fights, which are shocking and brutal.
One fight from Edgewood, Md., shows two men tackling each other behind the counter of the restaurant.
Since the fight, sheriff’s deputies have responded to the location two more times for reports of a disturbance, Kyle Andersen, a spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office told The Baltimore Sun.
In another instance, two men are seen at a drive-through in Ellenton, Fla. The video shows one man being thrown to the ground with the other throwing scores of punches at the other man's head. The video was captioned in part: "Don’t worry, they weren’t fighting over the chicken sandwich. This time they were fighting over the mayonnaise."
Meanwhile, at a separate location, a video surfaced showing a woman yelling at an employee behind the counter. The fight quickly escalated to which the employee then jumped over the counter to confront the customer.
The latest videos of fights at the restaurants are being posted in the wake of the killing of 28-year-old Kevin Tyrell Davis, who was stabbed to death after cutting in a line for chicken sandwiches at a crowded Popeyes restaurant in Maryland. Davis was attacked by another customer who confronted him, police said.
Popeyes resumed selling its chicken sandwich on Sunday. It was first released in August, and the chain credited popular demand to its supply selling out that month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.