You can't deny that classic Southern dishes are classic for a reason. Things like delicious Texas barbecue, sweet banana pudding, and Southern fried chicken are staples not just for those who live in the South, but those who have moved away, too. You can find a Southern-style restaurant in every single state, but at the heart of Southern cooking is one simple premise: homemade. That's why when one California restaurant was outed by customers for serving Popeyes chicken for $13 on an absolutely ridiculous up-sell, all internet hell broke loose.
Within in days of Popeyesgate, as it's now known on social media, the Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach was skewered on Yelp with over 80 one-star reviews. Why is this reselling such a big deal? Because it didn't just happen once or twice during the four years the restaurant has been open.
This is the now infamous Chicken And Waffles dish from Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, CA. The fried chicken donning these waffles are actually from @popeyeslouisianakitchen. Yesterday our @Foodbeast news team broke a story that this local restaurant was caught serving the chicken as their own, after a Yelp reviewer spotted an employee carrying in boxes of Popeyes. Today we tried for ourselves. More to come on foodbeast.com #popeyegate
Owner Kimberly Sanchez told ABC 7, "Most of my stuff here is made from scratch." However, one customer saw Sweet Dixie employees carrying Popeyes boxes into the kitchen one day and posted this Yelp review, mostly outraged at the profit Sweet Dixie Kitchen was making on overcharging for the fast food fried chicken he could realistically go get himself.
So just how much is the Long Beach homestyle restaurant charging for the chicken and waffles mentioned in said review? $13, and thankfully Tyler F. was refunded the meal. When he posted the review on Yelp, owner Kimberly Sanchez took to social media to defend her choices.
The Chicken Defense
"We PROUDLY SERVE Popeyes' spicy tenders -- the best fried chicken anywhere and from New Orleans -- which are delivered twice a day. We also in case you need to know buy our gumbo from a friend who sells it at a local farmers marker. We promote usually small batch local producers in our menu. The exception is Popeyes -- we can't fry at this location -- and it the fried chicken I love so much and I ate a ton of it in the ATL. So I serve it."
According to Fox News, the boldly defensive Yelp response stated that the restaurant doesn't "mill [their] own flour" or "grow [their] own veggies."
Of 30 menu items, she stated that she only uses the Popeyes chicken for two new dishes that just hit the menu two months ago, when the Popeyes distribution began with the fried chicken and waffles, and the fried chicken sandwich. Defending her choice even further, she stated,
"We wrote it on our board in the restaurant, 'Imported from Louisiana this week, thank you Popeyes.' It wasn't a secret. We use the chicken as an ingredient in a menu item we made, we don't use their sauces or anything else."
And it might not have been Popeyes, had she found a suitable version from the Costco chicken selection or the Restaurant Depot chicken. She stated that no matter what, she will continue to sell the chicken on her menu and has even looked into a partnership with Popeyes.
The Real Problem
Now these are my kind of books and crannies! @popeyeslouisianakitchen I made this #sweetdixiekitchen #nooksandcrannies #friedchicken #crispy #crispyaf #buttermilk #buttermilkchicken #picklebrine #picklerick #whitegravy #hothoney #hotsauce #southernfood #dinnertime #homemade #wellworthit @lodgecastiron
It's not that customers are angry at the fact that it is Popeyes chicken. Popeyes does make delicious fast food chicken for a chain that operates nationwide and even has a buffet. Customers are angry because they feel they were overcharged, or they feel that it's unfair for Sweet Dixie Chicken to garner praise for the chicken in the two menu items because, let's be honest, the chicken is really the star of the chicken and waffles dish, as well as the fried chicken sandwich.
Yelp user Angela W. posted a one-star review after learning about the snafu, though she visited the establishment in 2014 and only gave a two-star review.
User Chelsea M. expressed her distrust of the restaurant's policy, feeling duped and cheated.
Both reviews highlight the real crux of the problem. With a backlash in the fast-food chain world for being unhealthy and overall terrible, local restaurants are reaping the benefits from people choosing sit-down dinners instead of quick fast food runs now. If a restaurant can't be trusted to be as local as it says it is, it's just as terrible as the fast food company lying to you about where it gets its chicken.
However, many are coming to the defense of Kim Sanchez and those who know the Sweet Dixie Kitchen team well.
In the end though, the real fact of the matter is that if the restaurant hadn't been caught literally in the act of sneaking Popeyes through the door, how many customers would have seen that single sign stating it was from Louisiana?
Sweet Dixie Kitchen might have gotten away with serving those delicious chicken entrees had Tyler H. not spoken up about what he had seen. And how much profit is Popeyes losing to this clever trick? James W. wants to know, too.
For now, it just makes you wonder how many times you've been overcharged and duped at a restaurant you trust. Now about some real homemade chicken...