DC chicken restaurant sees business boon amid #chickenwars

Roaming Rooster restaurant
A chicken restaurant in Northeast D.C. is getting a lot of love on social media amid the #chickenwars between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

The chicken wars between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A might be waning since Popeyes ran out of product for its sandwiches, but it’s been a boon for business at one local restaurant.

Roaming Rooster has been getting a lot of love online. Co-owner Michael Habtemariam, who runs the Northeast D.C. business with his brother and sister-in-law, said the restaurant’s traffic has tripled in the past week.

“Wow, it’s a crazy amount of people showing up after the chicken war. It’s extremely, extremely busy,” he said of their traffic that really started seeing an uptick last week.

He noticed an increase last Monday, then Tuesday as well.

“After Wednesday, it’s just been hectic. They’ve been lined up out to the door,” Habtemariam said of his customers.

He hasn’t had time off lately.

“No day(s) off. You kidding? No, no day off. No day off at all,” Habtemariam laughed. “No,” he added with more laughter.

But he’s glad for the spike in business. Habtemariam estimates business has tripled since the so-called chicken wars began.

The restaurant has gotten plenty of social media love from locals, along with attention from local news outlets.

“I’m happy with this,” he said of the increased business.

Regulars and newcomers alike were lined up for food.

Jonathan Mckenzie told WTOP he had already been a weekly customer for the past several months.

“The chicken was crunchy, juicy … it was everything I expected a sandwich to be. It was good. I guess it was consistent every time. It wasn’t a different sandwich when I came back, so that’s what made me want to come back more.”

Edward and Syeeda Suggs were sitting at one of the tables waiting for their order to carry out and dine at home.

Plenty of others were waiting as well. Some sitting down, with cups of beverages ranging from sweet tea to lemonade, and others stood waiting patiently for their vittles.

Edward Suggs said he’s open to trying one of Popeyes chicken sandwiches once they start serving them again.

“Popeyes got their style, Chick-fil-A got their style, but I think this one here [is] going to supersede them both anyway … I might be a regular from here on out,” he said of Roaming Rooster.

Syeeda Suggs said she decided to check it out on Sunday after hearing about it in the news.

“We’re Washingtonians, why not? Then I found out it was a black-owned business,” said Suggs. “Why not support a black-owned business? I think it’s going to be good.”

Vegetarian options at NE DC's Roaming Rooster restaurant
WTOP’s Liz Anderson got to try out some of the comfort food at Roaming Rooster — and it was vegetarian friendly. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

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