(CNN) — Popeyes wants to build off the success of its wildly popular fried chicken sandwich with a fish version that it hopes will attract as many fans in the pandemic.
The sandwich, which features a flaky flounder served on a brioche bun with pickles, will be available at restaurants nationwide for a limited time starting Thursday. The fish sandwich is sold at $4.49 a pop, a slight premium to the $3.99 chicken sandwich.
It comes at a time when sales at Popeyes locations are performing well for the brand’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International. In the three months that ended on September 30, sales at restaurants open at least 17 months jumped 17.4%.
That’s in part thanks to the chicken sandwich. When Popeyes introduced it in summer 2019, the product sold out within two weeks. The chain eventually brought the sandwich back in November of that year.
With the chicken sandwich “we raised the bar for what a best-in-class, high-quality sandwich should taste like,” said Sami Siddiqui, president of the Americas at Popeyes. “We wanted to do the same with fish.”
To draw in customers who loved the chicken sandwich, Popeyes is using the same bun and pickles combination in the fish version. It’s also offering “sandwich insurance” on the launch day. For an additional 15 cents, people who buy the fish sandwich and don’t like it can swap it out for a chicken sandwich.
Popeyes tested out the sandwich in Chicago around this time last year, where “it did incredibly well,” Siddiqui noted.
He added that if the sandwich is as successful as its chicken counterpart, the chain will consider making it a permanent addition.
It remains to be seen whether Americans will have the same appetite for fish as they do for Popeyes chicken. The number of fish sandwiches on US menus fell 8% from 2017 to 2019, according to market research firm Mintel.
But at grocery stores and other retailers, seafood is growing in popularity during the pandemic. Seafood sales jumped 28% to $16.7 billion in 2020, compared to the year before, according to Nielsen.
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