One restaurant in Southern California is getting roasted over their fried chicken. Well, it's not exactly their chicken.
Sweet Dixie Kitchen, an eatery in Long Beach, California that specializes in Southern comfort food, has been facing a digital firestorm ever since a Yelp user posted that the fried chicken they're serving actually comes from the fast food chain Popeyes.
The controversy has caused a flood of one-star reviews on Yelp. Now, there's even a warning on the restaurant's page, stating that the review site is "cleaning up" posts from people who are commenting on the news and issuing their opinions without actually having eaten there.
Owner Kim Sanchez told the Long Beach Press Telegram that her staff are now fearful and the cook didn’t even show up for work on Wednesday.
“He texted me and said this whole thing is ruining his relationship with his girlfriend and he was worried there might be violence,” said Sanchez, who added that now people are calling her a white supremacist and threatening her because of the Southern name of the restaurant.
Last week, Yelper Tyler H. recounted that he saw Sweet Dixie Kitchen staffers carting in large boxes of Popeyes chicken. After ordering the chicken and waffles, he confirmed with the server that the restaurant did indeed use Popeyes fried chicken in the dish. Though his meal was actually comped for other issues, Tyler took to Yelp to share his displeasure that the chicken wasn’t even cooked in-house.
Previously, on their Facebook and Instagram pages (which have since been set to private), Sweet Dixie Kitchen claimed that "everything is made here."
And according to the online menu, the restaurant sells the chicken and biscuits for $12.95 — a fact that many angry Yelpers are calling a ridiculous mark-up for reselling cheap fast food. A two-piece combo meal at Popeyes starts around $5.
But what really riled people up was Sanchez’s initially unapologetic response on Yelp.
Since the brunch spot is located in a historic Long Beach building, they actually can’t fry food in their kitchen. But, as Sanchez later told Fox News, because customers expect fried fare at a Southern restaurant, she added two fried chicken dishes to the menu two months ago — after settling on Popeyes as the best option.
“If they ask, I tell customers where the chicken comes from,” she told the Press Telegram. “The fact is, Popeyes is the best you can buy. Would they rather I use some other brand, like Sysco, which I can buy for 40 cents a strip? At Popeyes I pay $1.60 a strip and we use three.”
While many reviewers are still posting angry comments about feeling duped, a few are coming to Sweet Dixie’s defense.
“I don’t care where the chicken comes from, this place is so surprisingly good,” Chris M. wrote on Yelp. "The backlash on the chicken is kind of funny. Restaurants outsource suppliers all the time. Do you really think every time you've had a bread basket put on your table it just came out of the oven in the back?"
Sanchez' son, Nick, who says he has cooked at Sweet Dixie Kitchen, also took to Facebook to defend the restaurant.
That kind of support appears to be keeping Sanchez’ head up, for now.
“This place is my business, my heart, my soul,” she told the Press Telegram. ”I started it, literally, with $600 and I’m still here, because I’m the one who cries over it, I’m the one putting in long hours, I’m the one baking bread at midnight.”