It is not surprising that most Bojangles stores are in North Carolina, as the first location ever opened was in 1977 in the city of Charlotte, NC. The success of the store quickly saw interest from other business owners, as the first franchised business began operations the following year. Bojangles specializes in fried chicken, similar to the Cajun cuisine which also includes buttermilk biscuits, extremely popular in the southeastern region. The founders, Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas, had sold the concept to Horn and Hardart, a company in New York, in 1981. This company is now defunct.
Bojangles gained fame and prominence in 1989, as it displayed an exemplary reaction to Hurricane Hugo. The reliability of the restaurant chain's ability to maintain operations during the Hurricane in the Carolinas has matched other American fast food restaurants in an index that tracks a dining establishment's ability to be resilient in periods of natural disaster, inflation, and a changing economic or shocking climate. During the ownership of Horn and Hardart, the chain grew rapidly to 336 restaurants, which also included 100 locations in Florida.
Since 1994, when the company tried to go public, it has changed hands many times and been acquired by various other private companies. Most recently, it has dropped the apostrophe from its name since August 2020. There are currently 343 stores in North Carolina, which is around 43% of the stores in the United States. The most recent planned expansion is into Ohio, which has seen an increase in demand for fried chicken chains from across the country.
There are currently 146 stores located in South Carolina, which was a natural expansion from its partner state in the north. Cajun-style cooking is popular in this region as well, and franchise owners had an appetite to take part in the growing number of locations as they were expanding. At the time, Florida was the most prominent state outside of North Carolina that held many locations that were eventually closed down after the now-defunct New York-based company Horn and Hardart sold their interests. Over time, the changing of ownership has closed locations in Florida, and a more natural expansion has occurred in many different southeastern states.
Georgia has a natural inclination towards fried chicken, like many of its neighboring states. Georgia represents 13% of all Bojangles stores in the country, with over 100 locations within the borders of the state. This is somewhat surprising, as Georgia has long since had many different establishments that have opened to cater to the public that employs the same menu. For example, Popeye Chicken, a very famous Louisiana-based Cajun fried chicken chain that also serves buttermilk biscuits vastly outnumbers the number of Bojangles stores but has not completely overtaken the Georgian market.
This may either represent a lack of marketing, or a natural inclination towards flavor that remains consistent, regardless of the state or country it has expanded to. At various times, Bojangles has also had locations outside of the country, particularly in Jamaica, Honduras, and Mexico.