by Aaron Burns

MOORESVILLE – Lake Norman’s fried chicken fast food market has no shortage of options, including KFC, Bojangles’ and Chick-fil-A. Popeyes Louisiana Chicken will soon jump into the mix, as well.

The Sandy Springs, Ga.-based chain -– whose only location in the area is in the food court at Concord Mills – will open a Popeyes restaurant at 379 W. Plaza Drive.

Jack in the Box, another fast food franchise, previously occupied the building.

Alicia Thompson, a spokeswoman for Popeyes, said the Mooresville location will open soon.

“We are currently under construction in Mooresville with a scheduled opening before the end of the year,” she said. Popeyes has more than 2,060 franchises in 40 states and 26 countries, including Turkey, Bahrain, China, Hong Kong and Canada.

Increased revenue in the U.S. and overseas has enabled Popeyes to expand its base.

Popeyes’ focus has been on expanding its brand in new locations all year. The new restaurant in Indianapolis was the first Popeyes to enter the city.

A seven-year drop in company-owned franchises did nothing to dispel Popeyes’ desire to move to the Lake Norman area, which has been dominated by Charlotte-based Bojangles’ in the fried chicken market.

Bojangles’ has roughly 500 franchises, a much smaller number than Popeyes, in 10 states.

So, why start a new restaurant to compete with a known local product?

It’s simple, Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce President Kirk Ballard said. More people are moving to the town and bringing with them a hunger for more fast food options – and more jobs.

“The population of Mooresville has doubled in the past few years,” Ballard said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth and (restaurant companies) see that. Every one of the restaurants coming to the area leads to hiring local individuals for positions. Those jobs are helping the economy.”