Chattanooga man sues Popeyes for running out of popular chicken sandwich

Staff photo by Tim Barber/ The Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant is crowded with plenty of drive-through and dinning room business at 12:30, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019.

A Chattanooga man is suing fast-food chain Popeyes for running out of its popular chicken sandwiches.

Craig Barr's suit accuses the company of false advertising, deceptive business practices and causing him to waste "countless time driving" to and from local chains to find the sandwich.

Barr, of East Ridge, also claims he was hustled out of $25 by a man who posted a Craigslist ad claiming he could get sandwiches a restaurant was hiding in the back, suffered rim and tire damage while driving from location to location, and was humiliated when his friends laughed at him.

"I can't get happy; I have this sandwich on my mind. I can't think straight," he told the Times Free Press on Thursday. "It just consumes you."

The sandwich became an unexpected online sensation over the weekend, resulting in long lines and sandwich shortages. Signs began popping up on drive-through speakers and restaurant doorways alerting customers restaurants had run out of sandwiches due to unexpected high volumes.

Apex Marketing Group estimated the online buzz was worth $65 million in marketing for the Miami-based company.

Barr, who owns a company in the automobile industry, claims Popeyes purposefully overhyped the sandwiches and under-delivered quantity to increase popularity and garner attention.

"It's totally deceptive. Who runs out of chicken? It's a big fiasco. Someone has to stand up to big corporate," said an agitated Barr. "Everyone is captivated by these sandwiches. They've got everyone gassed up on them."

Popeyes has not returned a request for comment.

The sandwiches were available in select stores Aug. 12. They gained widespread popularity on Twitter on Aug. 19 when the company's account feuded with Wendy's and Chick-fil-A over who had the best sandwich.

(Read more: Fans choose sides in the 'Chicken Sandwich War' of our time)

Barr has since been making regular trips to Popeyes locations on Broad Street, Highway 58, Brainerd Road and Ringgold Road. He's been driving from one location to the next, allegedly being told by employees that they're sold out and that he should try another store.

While traveling to the Highway 58 location, the tire on his car blew and he cracked a $1,500 rim, he said.

He fixed the tire and went to get his sandwich only to be told he'd have to come back after the weekend because the chicken sandwich had sold out. He then found a Craigslist ad from a man claiming he had a friend who worked at Popeyes. The worker had supposedly stashed some sandwiches in a walk-in freezer, and the Craiglist seller could get Barr a sandwich that was being held in the back of the Broad Street location.

photo A screen grab of a Craigslist ad claiming the seller can get the sold-out Popeyes chicken sandwiches for $24. An East Ridge man who is suing the company allegedly fell for the scam and lost $25. (Screenshot provided by Craig Barr).

Barr met with the man behind the restaurant on Monday, handing him $25 - $5 for the sandwich and $20 for the troubles. The man allegedly went into the store and never came back. Barr went inside after realizing what happened. An employee said a man matching the description had bought something and left out the front door.

"I got scammed," Barr said.

The company posted earlier this week that it was totally out of sandwiches nationwide. They wouldn't be available until at least today, according to the company, but Barr has to work, he said, and won't be available to get a sandwich.

He filed the civil action Wednesday to Hamilton County Circuit Clerk Larry Henry seeking $5,000.

Contact Mark Pace with questions, comments, concerns or story tips at or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.