Monday, March 9, 2009

Al Copeland

Al Copeland (1944-2008) may seem like an unusual hero of capitalism. His famous company, Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, had to file for bankruptcy under his leadership and he is often criticized for his outlandish lifestyle. However, Copeland created wealth for large numbers of people throughout his lifetime by using his own skill and talent.

Copeland was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He took this regions idea of spicy food and in 1972 added it to his chicken recipe to help his young restaurant Popeyes become a favorite in Louisiana. In 1976, Copeland began franchising his restaurant. Over the next 10 years, 500 outlets were added and an additional 200 outlets were added later. By end of the 1980s, he owned or franchised over 800 restaurants.

Popeyes was the third largest chicken fried chain when Copeland decided to borrow heavily and purchased the second largest chicken fried chain, Church's Chicken. Shortly after acquiring the new chain the debt became too large and Copeland filed for bankruptcy.

Copeland lost Popeyes in the bankruptcy, but he did keep rights to many of the company's recipies and products. He began producing the spices in his plant, Diversified Foods and Seasonings. Copeland also owned multiple upscale restaurants, three hotels, and improv comedy clubs.

He was also known for his power boat racing teams, extravagant weddings, multiple divorces, and his large Christmas light displays. While known for his brash style, Copeland also used his wealth to enhance education programs, giving generously to Louisiana State University, Delgado Community College, and the National Food Service Institute.

Copeland was unsuccessful in a major business risk he took, but he did found a large, successful business. He rebounded after facing bankruptcy and continued to operate ate many successful businesses. Copeland is an example of both the successes and failures experienced in capitalism and he is a great example of the benefits of capitalism. Popeyes and Copeland's other companies have created jobs, opportunities, and good food for people since the 1970s and continue to do so today.

New York Times: Al Copeland, a Restaurateur Known for Spice and Speed, Dies at 64
Wikipedia: Al Copeland

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

looks like he is really cool guy. if all of these is true - well, I think I need to meet with him

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