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A Popeyes in Center City is drawing heat for its ‘no homeless people allowed inside the store’ sign

"I was [once] homeless," said Bryan Fuller, who drew attention to the sign by posting a photo on Twitter.

A sign declaring "no homeless people allowed" posted in the front window of the Popeyes on Chestnut Street near 15th Street sparked controversy on social media.
A sign declaring "no homeless people allowed" posted in the front window of the Popeyes on Chestnut Street near 15th Street sparked controversy on social media.Read moreBryan Fuller

Bryan Fuller, 37, was walking past the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Chestnut Street near 15th when he noticed a small printed sign in the front window: “No homeless people allowed inside the store.”

Fuller, who lives in Rittenhouse Square with his partner, grew up in the foster care system in North Carolina and ended up for part of his young life living in shelters or sleeping on the beach.

“You do what you have to do to survive,” he said in a phone interview Monday night.

When he saw the sign Saturday evening, he thought to himself: “I can’t let them get away with this.” So he posted a photo of the sign to Twitter and wrote: “I have purchased hundreds if not thousands of meals for homeless people. They deserve dignity and respect.”

By Monday, the sign was the subject of controversy online because of Fuller’s tweet and was being reported by news outlets such as Fox Business and TMZ.

TMZ quoted a manager saying the sign was put up because some “homeless” people don’t wear masks, or they “come in and trash the store.”

Late Monday morning, TMZ reported that a spokesperson from “Popeyes corporate” said the sign had been removed.

A representative for Restaurant Brands International, which owns Popeyes as well as Burger King, said in an emailed statement Monday night: “At Popeyes, we are committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect. All guests who follow government health and safety mandates, including wearing masks, are always welcome to dine in our restaurants. We are working with the franchise owner of this restaurant to further understand the situation.”

Employees at the Chestnut Street location could not be reached by phone Monday night.

Fuller stressed that he was not saying that people should be allowed to break the law inside any business.

Fuller describes himself in his Twitter bio as a liberal and in favor of “Criminal Justice Reform, LGBTQIA+, BLM, Stop Asian Hate, Biden/Harris,” but he said he was disgusted by the suffering caused by crime in Philadelphia.

“I voted for our current mayor and I regret it,” Fuller said, adding that he didn’t vote in the recent election for district attorney because he didn’t want to vote to reelect Larry Krasner and couldn’t bring himself to vote for the Republican challenger.

Fuller said he was never contacted directly by Popeyes, even though the corporate Twitter account appears to be very active responding to complaints about food or service.

Fuller, who works in customer service, said he was simply shocked by how offensive the sign was.

“You have to learn to communicate in a better way,” he said.