New Popeyes set to open at end of month

Published 6:18 pm Thursday, December 6, 2018

VALLEY – A new Popeyes franchise with new owners will open soon in Valley.

Abid Khutliwala, president of SI Group Inc, said Dec. 31 is his deadline to open the new store, located near I-85 in Valley, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts.

He wants to make it very clear that this Popeyes franchise is not the same as the franchise that opened in 2012 in the current spot of Dairy Queen.

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“I think this is a much better location than before,” Khutliwala said. “The message is that I believe in providing the best customer service, fresh food and not compromising the quality of the food.”

He said food quality and the product wasn’t the reason the former franchise closed.

Popeyes is currently hiring between 80 to 90 people, with the expectation that about 50 percent of those employees will stay with the store when it settles into the community.

Khutliwala, who owns a Checkers and a Steak ‘n Shake in Atlanta, said when he opened stores in Atlanta, he hired 200 people and by the time those stores were in full swing, there were about 45 people left.

Khutliwala is from Fayette County, Georgia, so he said he’ll be in and out of the area. However, getting a franchise in Valley was important to him. When he wanted to start a Popeyes franchise, Popeye’s suggested the spot right off exit 79 because it was already approved as a Popeyes franchise.

The owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts store originally wanted to build a Popeyes where Khutliwala’s store is being built but decided against it. However, the site was already slated as a Popeyes franchise.

This is the first store in Alabama for Khutliwala, and he’s in the process of building another Popeyes in Phenix City and looking to the Columbus, Georgia market for a store.

He said the Greater Valley Area has been receptive to him and his goal of finding the best employees.

“So far, I am pretty happy with the response I am getting,” Khutliwala said. “We’ve hosted a couple job fairs at Valley and Lanett High Schools.”

Construction on the building started Oct. 15, and Khutliwala said there are some internal work and signage that needs to be completed. He said the sign should be installed by Dec. 15.