Guest blog post by Wembley Central resident Jaine Lunn
Yes it can, by all accounts. On Thursday Popeye's Famous Louisiana Chicken (formerly Superdrug store) opened in the High Road to a fanfare. Its planned big expansion into the UK is well on its way, along with one in Kilburn which opened last month.
The Wembley branch boasts a restaurant with 86 covers, making it much larger than KFC, MacDonalds and Nando's all put together. It was certainly very busy at 12 noon today, whilst KFC was empty and not a delivery driver in sight. Offering an extensive menu, consisting of Chicken Wraps, Burgers, Fries, Deserts and Shakes, it markets itself as a premium brand and slightly more expensive than what is currently on offer in the rest of the high road.
I did try the Saver menu which consisted of 2 x Tender Strips and Fries, which cost £2.99, the outside has a very tasty crunch, the tender strips were juicy and cooked to perfection. The fries were some of the best I’ve tasted for reconstituted potatoes. This was opening day however, and we all know that consistency is the key. Once these big brands are franchised the quality drops off. This is clearly noticeable with MacDonalds and KFC which are both represented in the High Road are franchise owned and their offerings look nothing like the pictures in the shop in store or on TV adverts. I also didn't see a sign claiming the chicken was Halal, like some other stores.
On a serious note, there are additionally 3 shops offering pizza: Pizza Hut, Dominoes, and an Independent, 2 offers of Doner Kebabs:,the Doner, German Doner Kebab plus Amigo's which offers Chicken, Burgers, Hot Dogs, etc. Wembley High Road is awash with ultra-processed fast foods which leads me to the latest figures relating to Brent Residents.
In November 2022, reported by Brent Council, 58.8% of residents were Overweight, Obese or having a BMI of over 25.
In August 2021, it was reported that 1 in 3 children leaving Primary School (year 6) approximately 24% were considered Overweight or Obese by the age of 11. With Brent's planning department more concerned about expanding their housing quota, building in parks and reducing our green space that should be available for exercise these results are not surprising. Whatever happened to them reducing the number of takeaways etc near schools?
On much lighter note, I did ask what appeared to be a Senior Rep from Popeye, why it was called Popeye Chicken ( as my only recollection of anyone called Popeye was the Sailor who ate Spinach and his very skinny girlfriend Olive Oyl who clearly never ate anything close to Fried Chicken lol.) He informed me that the owner of Popeye chose the name after Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle from the film "The French Connection" played by Gene Hackman in the film of which he was a big fan apparently.
So now you know.