Fact check: Controversial Popeyes sign outside St. Louis not posted by employees, police say

The claim: Popeyes in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, put up a sign saying it reserves the right to refuse service to white people

Some social media users are criticizing a Popeyes Louisiana Chicken location in Missouri for allegedly putting up a sign saying the fast food chain reserves the right to refuse service to white people. 

“This restaurant is under new management and will reserve the right to refuse service to white people. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the purported sign says. An image of the sign was shared to Facebook on May 27 in a post with more than 1,900 shares. 

The post claims the sign was put up by the store’s general manager and that the new policy will start June 1. 

“This sign was posted outside Popeyes chicken restaurant in St. Louis, MO,” the user said in the caption of the image. “New Manager thinks he has the ‘right’ to refuse service based on race.”

Another Facebook user shared the same image May 26 and encouraged friends to “call them and complain.”

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The sign was put up in the drive-thru lane of a Popeyes location outside St. Louis, but the company was not behind it, as the posts suggest. 

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook users who shared the claim for comment.

Popeyes employees didn’t put up sign, police say

Police are still investigating who put up the sign at a Popeyes location in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, but they say there’s no indication the store’s employees are to blame.

Chief Chris DiGiuseppi of the Lake St. Louis Police Department told USA TODAY based on their information and investigation, the subjects who posted the sign are not Popeyes employees. 

“‘The manager’ did NOT post this sign and the business is NOT ‘under new management’ as alleged per our investigation,” he said via email, pointing to video footage of the subjects shared to Facebook on May 28.

The Lake St. Louis Police Department believes the people seen in the video are the ones who posted the sign. DiGiuseppi added that police are still investigating the motive behind the incident. 

On May 26, the Lake St. Louis Police Department wrote on Facebook that “unknown subjects posted an inappropriate sign on the drive-through window, unbeknownst to the business.” 

The statement added that the sign could potentially be related to a vandalism case at the same Popeyes store in early May, when police say several menus at the location were spray-painted. 

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USA TODAY reached out to Popeyes for additional comment. 

Our rating: Missing context

The claim that a Popeyes in St. Louis put up a sign saying it reserves the right to refuse service to white people is MISSING CONTEXT, because without additional details it could be misleading. It’s true that the sign was put up  at a Popeyes location outside St. Louis, however, it was not put up by the store’s general manager. Police said surveillance video indicates the sign was not posted by someone who currently or previously worked at the restaurant, either. 

Our fact-check sources: 

  • KMOV4, May 28, Police: Controversial sign posted at St. Charles County restaurant drive-thru deemed a prank 
  • Lake Saint Louis Police Department, May 26, Facebook post
  • Lead Stories, May 28, Fact Check: Local Popeyes Did NOT Post a Sign Saying They ‘Reserve The Right to Refuse Service To White People’
  • Fox 2 Now, May 26, Racially offensive sign outside Lake St. Louis Popeye’s under investigation 
  • KMOV4, May 28, CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Suspects accused of posting controversial sign at Lake Saint Louis Popeyes
  • Chris DiGuseppi, May 29, Email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Lake Saint Louis Police Department, May 28, Facebook video

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