The Kenmore Popeyes That Fried the 2011 Red Sox Season Is Gone
We'll always have the memories.
Just a month and a half after the chain’s chicken sandwich broke the Internet, it seems that Boston is saying goodbye to its most storied Popeyes location. Multiple Twitter users have reported that the Kenmore Square Popeyes has a “closed” sign on its front door and looks “completely cleaned out inside.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.
While the city is still flush with outposts of the fried chicken chain, with locations near Northeastern and in Roslindale and Roxbury, the Kenmore Square Popeyes holds a special—or rather, infamous—place in Boston history. It all began in September 2011 when the Red Sox epically fell apart, blowing a nine-game division lead and going 7-20 to close the season. As fans desperately grasped for any possible explanation, the Boston Globe published a story that described a sorry state of affairs in the dugout, including a manager dealing with personal issues, owners who spent recklessly—and three elite starting pitchers, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Jon Lester, who had a habit of playing video games, drinking beer, and, yes, pounding Popeyes in the clubhouse during games.
“Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too,” the story reads. “But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.”
With that, the livid Red Sox fandom locked in its target. The root of all the season’s evils was Cajun-spiced, breaded, and bubbling in a fryer in Kenmore Square. The story was front-page material for weeks.
“I don’t know if it’s helped business, but it sure hasn’t hurt,’’ Jon Stilianos, then-owner of the location, said in a follow-up story in the Globe.
Eventually, Lester added his voice to the chicken chatter, admitting that he had indeed consumed beer and Popeyes during a game or two, but insisting that the story had been overblown.
“It was a ninth-inning rally beer,” he told the Globe. “We probably ordered chicken from Popeye’s like once a month. That happened. But that’s not the reason we lost…Most of the times it was one beer, a beer. It was like having a Coke in terms of how it affected you mentally or physically. I know how it looks to people and it probably looks bad. But we weren’t up there just drinking and eating and nobody played video games. We watched the game.”
Even one year later, the controversy still hadn’t died. On the day of the season opener, the Kenmore Square Popeyes hoisted a banner that read “4 out of 5 Pitchers Prefer Our Chicken BEST” in front of the restaurant.
“I’m not trying to be mean; we’re just having fun with it,” Stilianos said. “They were eating it when they were winning, too.”
How will the Sox fuel their clubhouse snack sessions now? Piles of Tasty Burgers? Boxes of Regina’s pizzas? It’s the age of the fast casual grain bowl in Fenway these days. What’s a team to do if it wants to eat something batter fried before it’s time to batter up?