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, there were 600 locations. Today, there are more than 10,000 locations worldwide. In 1991, the company's name was changed to KFC. Around 2005, the name was changed back to Kentucky Fried Chicken and the bucket signs were revived with a black and white, less-detailed image of the Colonel.

In 1969, the Sanders motel and gas station were demolished. However, in 1990, the Cafe was restored to its original appearance. It is now used as a KFC restaurant and serves as a museum. It has recreated the old kitchen, a motel room, Sanders' office, and displays of advertising and other historical items. In 2020, the pole sign was replaced with a reproduction of the original style bucket sign and flashing arrow. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [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 cardboard bucket concept in 1957. 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 [gone]
Albany, GA
former Kentucky Fried Chicken [gone]
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. [map]

The only other Colonel Sanders weathervanes that I know of on public display are in private collections in Lexington, KY; Maltby, WA; and Buellton, CA. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The photo of the Sparks location is from 2014. The building now houses Barks NV. [map]

The photo of the Bossier City location is from 2007. The building was repainted after that and was in use as an office for a used car dealership. In 2017, the building was vacant. It now houses a used car lot office. [map]

The photo of the Albany location is from 2007. By 2016, the building had been demolished.

The photo of the Jackson location is from 2010. By 2015, the building had been completely remodeled but was still housing a Subway.

former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Gulfport, MS
This former Kentucky Fried Chicken was built by 1966 and must have predated the mansard roof design shown above. Either that, or the building was remodeled by a later tenant. Around 1978, the building was briefly housing the Der Weiner Hut. From around from 1983-1992, the building housed a Cajun's Fabulous Fried Chicken. In more recent years, the building housed a used car lot office. It now houses Auto Cash Title Loans. [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
Gainesville, TX
former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Chandler, AZ
former Kentucky Fried Chicken
Broken Arrow, OK
This former Kentucky Fried Chicken in Gainesville housed Donutstein from 2013-2021. It now houses Snowflake Donuts & Kolaches Shop. [map]

This former Kentucky Fried Chicken in Chandler has housed a BoSa Donuts since 2016. The bucket and building have both been adapted. [map]

This former Kentucky Fried Chicken in Broken Arrow was left in place and painted white by 2007. The adapted building now houses Gilcrest Chiropractic. [map]

former Kentucky
Fried Chicken [gone]
Goderich, ON
Kentucky Fried Chicken [gone]
Niagara Falls, ON
former Kentucky Fried Chicken [gone]
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 locations 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 this website.

This Goderich location was closed by 2013. This photo is from 2007. This bucket sign was replaced with a modern flat sign before the place closed. The steeple and the sign panel on the front of the building are gone now. [photo thanks Mark Comstock]

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. In 2012, the building began housing Hintonburger. The updated shingled roof is still there. The steeple and signs are gone. In 2017, the building was vacant. It was completely remodeled and now houses a Domino's. For more, see this website.

The Tilbury location is still operating with this building style which was unique to Canada. The bucket sign is now modern. [map]

More Scott's Chicken Villa buildings:
Victoria, BC
Belleville, ON
Fergus, ON
Hamilton, ON
Markham, ON [map]
Port Colborne, ON
St. Catherines, ON
Toronto, 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 [gone]
Grinnell, IA
The trademark Kentucky Fried Chicken cardboard bucket was invented in 1957 by Pete Harman. In 1961, the company's first bucket sign was created by Leonard Goldstein (the founder of Lendy's). He used these spinning bucket signs at his Roanoke, VA and Salem, VA restaurants. In 1962, when Dave Thomas started the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain, these bucket signs were part of the original design at the urging of the Colonel. By the 1970s, these revolving signs were everywhere. When the company dumped the Colonel's image and changed the name to KFC in 1991, most locations that still had these signs, got rid of these. Most likely, with pressure from corporate. In recent years, KFC has brought back bucket signs but the image of the Colonel is more stylized and is only black and white. The "finger lickin' good" slogan is also gone. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3.

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 opened in 1968 with this bucket sign. The owner had to keep the sign clean and fully-lit in order to satisfy corporate headquarters which would much rather have seen the sign removed. The sign was removed around 2020 when the location closed.

The San Jose bucket sign (described below) is the only one still on display at operating KFC locations. There was still one in Yellowknife, NT until the location closed in 2015.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
San Jose, CA
The graphics on this San Jose bucket are different from the signs shown above. This design is older. The San Jose bucket is from around 1964. The red stripe design was introduced around 1968. There were other bucket signs like the one in San Jose in Canada until just a few years ago [Goderich, ON (see above) and Yellowknife, NT] but they are both gone now. The San Jose bucket no longer spins. The chasing bulbs are still lit. Around 1995, a new KFC building was constructed. The San Jose Planning Department declared the sign historic at that time which prevented it from being removed. [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]
Decatur, IL
Great Falls, MT [gone]
Youngwood, PA [gone]
Port Elgin, ON: 1, 2 [gone]
Yellowknife, NT: 1, 2 [gone]

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

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Marietta, GA
2009: 2021:
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. In 2017, the location closed for a remodeling. The building was replaced but the sign was only changed slightly. The Pepsi logo was replaced with the black and white Colonel logo and some red stripes were added. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Colonel Sanders
Meridian, MS
This Colonel Sanders statue was probably installed at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. It is now displayed in front of the Colonel Kids Foundation Administration Building at Hope Village which was dedicated in 2004. [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. [map]

More Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants:
Kentucky Beef
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Yakima, WA) [vintage]

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