Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen’s five restaurants in Wichita have a new owner. Abdul Hamideh with ARJH purchased the Wichita Popeyes from long-time owner Willie Kendrick with Wilken Enterprises, who had owned and operated them for more than 40 years.
Hamideh said he is excited to become part of the Wichita community and has an aggressive plan to grow his Popeyes portfolio to 100+ restaurants. He started that growth by purchasing two Popeyes locations and development rights for 30+ locations in Oklahoma.
The five Popeyes restaurants recently purchased in Wichita were an ideal addition to his portfolio and he plans to add a new location here soon. Hamideh also owns and operates IHOP restaurants across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas and Missouri. He is also growing the IHOP brand.
New President for Popeyes
Darren McGilbray, a Wichita native, is now the President of Popeyes. McGilbray has over 40 years of experience in the food industry.
He started his restaurant career in 1980 as a dishwasher at the North Woodlawn Pizza Hut in Wichita and steadily advanced his career through high school, college and beyond.
Prior to this new role, McGilbray held leadership positions at YUM Brands Foods – Long John Silvers and A&W as a regional vice president and Pizza Hut as a Region Coach. He also led as Regional Director of Franchise Operations for Popeyes corporate and as Director of Operations for Marco’s Pizza as.
Three years ago, Willie Kendrick recruited him to Wichita to serve as Director of Operations for the local Popeye’s stores. Hamideh has chosen to keep McGilbray onboard, promoting him to the position as corporate president.
Hamideh said Darren is the perfect person to grow their Popeyes Brand. McGilbray has an aggressive goal to take Popeyes service to a whole new level over the coming months. A grand “re-opening” event is being planned to give Wichita a chance to join in the excitement.
“We will continue to invest in Wichita. We have already started the ball rolling with USD 259, The Lord’s Diner, the Wichita Chamber of Commerce and many others to maximize our opportunities to support our young people, people in need and our Wichita community.
Excited to be back in Wichita
McGilbray and his wife, Jacqueline, attended Heights High School and were high school sweethearts and have been married for 36 years. They have one son, Jarren, who is a recent honors graduate from the University of Houston. Jacqueline is an entrepreneur and owns a boutique in Wichita’s Douglas Design District – Jewel Angels Boutique, located at 3236 E Douglas Ave.
McGilbray comes from a family that embraces education and community. His parents, Delvin & Shirley McGilbray, worked for a combined 80+ years as educators in the Wichita school district. They remain active in the community. McGilbray’s sister, Delynn, is also an educator in Kansas.
McGilbray said his parents instilled the importance of education and community in him. He attended Butler County Community College and continued his education, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human resources from Friends University. In addition, he obtained a bachelor’s in management from Manhattan Christian College.
McGilbray is an active and competitive tennis player. In high school, he played the No. 1 spot on the tennis team at Heights High School qualifying for state twice. He also played No. 1 at Butler County Community College and took the team to nationals for the first time in school history.
“I often hear fast food jobs are not a viable career. I disagree! If you love to work with people and serve your community, it’s the perfect profession and it is very rewarding,” he said.
“My passion is to cultivate careers and opportunities that strengthen our community. I’m excited to take on my new role as president and am looking forward to providing world class service that meets our world class product.”