Kentucky Fried Chicken

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Sanders Court & Café
Corbin, KY
model depicting Court & Café in 1940
In 1930, Harland Sanders, later "Colonel" Sanders, opened a Shell gas station in Corbin. In 1931, he moved across the street to a Gulf station. He then entered into a long-term arrangement with the Pure Oil Company and opened a restaurant. This was probably a similar deal to the one worked out with the Village Inn. By 1937, he was operating the full-scale motel and restaurant complex called Sanders Court & Café. During this time, he developed a secret recipe for fried chicken which would become world famous.

When I-75 bypassed Corbin, Sanders, at the age of 66, took his chicken recipe on the road. He convinced other restaurants to add his chicken to their menus in exchange for a few cents each time it was sold. This quickly turned into franchising and Kentucky Fried Chicken was born. Within seven years, he had 600 outlets. Today, there are more than 10,000 KFC outlets worldwide.

In 1969, the Sanders motel and gas station were demolished. However, in 1990, the Café was restored to its original appearance. It is now used as a KFC restaurant and and serves as a museum. It has recreated the old kitchen, a motel room, Sanders' office, and displays of advertising and other historical items. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4. [map]

Harman Cafe
Salt Lake City, UT
The Harman Cafe was established in 1952 when Pete Harman made a deal with Colonel Sanders to start a restaurant franchise based on Sanders' fried chicken recipe. The name "Kentucky Fried Chicken" was painted on the window of Harman's Cafe. They sold a boxed meal of 14 pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls until Harman came up with the legendary bucket concept. In 2004, a modern KFC building and sign replaced the originals. However, the modern sign and statues of Harman and Sanders pay tribute to this historic site. There are also lots of early KFC photos and artifacts inside the restaurant. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4. [map]

former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Sparks, NV
former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Bossier City, LA
former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Albany, GA
former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Jackson, MS
weathervane sign
Gilt Edge, TN
These buildings shown above are examples of Kentucky Fried Chicken's 1968 design with a mansard roof and a cupola. I believe this was the company's first standardized building design. The metal buildings were designed by Trachte. I don't believe there are any KFCs still in operation that use these buildings. However, there are still lots of them out there that have been repurposed.

The cupolas of these buildings were originally topped with weathervane signs. This one is installed on top of the sign for the Gilt Edge Cafe. The only other two Colonel Sanders weathervanes that I know of are in Maltby, WA and Buellton, CA. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

[Sparks map]
[Bossier City map]
[Albany map]
[Jackson map]
[Gilt Edge map]

former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Los Angeles, CA
2013: 2015:
This former Kentucky Fried Chicken in Los Angeles housed a Chano's Drive-in since around 2009. The bucket sign was also adapted. By 2014, the building was housing Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak. The sign was adapted again. [map]

former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Pico Rivera, CA
This former Kentucky Fried Chicken was adapted for a Tierra Mia Coffee in 2012. [map]

former Kentucky
Fried Chicken
Goderich, ON
Kentucky Fried Chicken [gone]
Niagara Falls, ON
former Kentucky Fried Chicken (now Hintonburger)
Ottawa, ON
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Tilbury, ON
These locations were owned by Scott's Hospitality which was established in 1962. There were at least 100 Scott's Chicken Villas in Ontario. Presumably, all of these location had vintage bucket signs originally. The company's Quebec locations were known as "La Villa du Poulet Scott". In Quebec, modern day KFCs are called PFKs (Poulet Frit Kentucky). Although Scott's was based in Canada, it also owned locations in Florida which had all closed by the early 1980s. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

This Goderich location was closed by 2013. This photo is from 2007. This bucket sign had been replaced with a modern flat sign before the place closed. [photo thanks Mark Comstock] [map]

This photo of the Niagara Falls building is from 2007. By 2014, the building had been replaced with a modern one. It is now a combination KFC and Taco Bell restaurant.

The photos of this Ottawa location are from 2009. This location opened in 1969. Since 2012, the building has housed Hintonburger. The updated shingled roof is still there. The steeple and signs are gone. For more, see this website. [map]

The Tilbury location is another example of this building style which was unique to Canada. [map]

More Scott's Chicken Villa buildings:
Cambridge, ON [closed]
Hamilton, ON
Pembroke, ON
Welland, ON

If you know of any other Scott's Chicken Villa buildings, I'd love to hear about them.

Fried Chicken [gone]
Metropolis, IL
Fried Chicken [gone]
Hayward, WI
Fried Chicken [gone]
Magnolia, AR
Fried Chicken [gone]
Iron River, MI
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Grinnell, IA
The trademark Kentucky Fried Chicken paper bucket was invented in 1952. In 1961, the company's first bucket sign was created by Leonard Goldstein (the founder of Lendy's) in Roanoke, VA. By the 1970s, these signs were everywhere. They used to revolve but I don't believe any still do. When the company dumped the Colonel and changed its name to KFC in 1991, most locations finally got rid of these signs. In recent years, KFC has brought back bucket signs but the image of the Colonel is more stylized and only black and white. The "finger lickin' good" slogan is also gone. For more, see 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The Metropolis bucket was still there in 2010 when this photo was taken. By 2013, the location had closed and the sign was gone.

The Magnolia bucket, photographed in 2008, was gone by 2009. The Iron River bucket, photographed in 2006, was gone by 2010. The Hayward location and bucket, shot in 2007, are gone now as well.

The Grinnell bucket and the San Jose bucket sign (described below) are the only ones that I know of in the U.S. that are still in use. I believe the one in Canada (Yellowknife - see links in the blue box below) is also still there. That makes a total of three still on display at operating KFC locations.

The Grinnell location opened in 1968 with this bucket sign. The owner has to keep the sign clean and fully-lighted to satisfy corporate headquarters which would rather see the sign removed. [map]

Kentucky Fried Chicken
San Jose, CA
The graphics on this San Jose bucket are different from the signs shown above. I believe this one is older. There was another bucket sign with this wording in Goderich, ON (see above) until recently but it is gone now. The only other bucket sign left with this wording is the one in Yellowknift (see links below in blue box). [map]

former Kentucky
Fried Chicken bucket [gone]
Anniston, AL
Mr. Shrimp [gone]
Chicago, IL
This Anniston bucket had been converted into a giant Coca-Cola cup complete with a straw. It stood in front of Garibaldi's Mexican restaurant. This photo is from 2007. I believe by 2010, the straw was gone. Garibaldi's was gone by 2014 and so was the bucket sign.

Mr. Shrimp opened around 1953. I assume these plastic panels were added to a former Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket. Mr. Shrimp closed in 2010 just before this photo was taken. By 2012, the panels were gone and only the pole and metal sign supports were left. For more, see this website.

More Vintage Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket Signs:
Hollywood, CA: 1, 2 [gone]
Youngwood, PA [gone]
Port Elgin, ON: 1, 2 [gone]
Yellowknife, NT: 1, 2 [map]

If you know of any other vintage or repurposed bucket signs, I'd love to hear from you.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Marietta, GA
This Kentucky Fried Chicken sign is 55 feet tall and made of sheet metal. It was built in 1963 to advertise for Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake. Kentucky Fried took over the space in 1974. The chicken's beak opens and closes while the eye spins around. In 1996, the sign was severely damaged by a tornado and Pepsi-Cola helped pay to restore it. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Los Angeles, CA


2008: 2015:
This Kentucky Fried Chicken was designed by Jeffrey Daniels in 1989. Daniels worked for Frank Gehry from 1978-1980 and Gehry's influence is evident in this abstracted bucket design. The building was repainted beige around 2014. The statue of the Colonel in the interior has been gone since around 2012. For more, see this website. [map]

More Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants:
Kentucky Beef

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