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EC KFC renovation to recall past as 'home of the colonel'

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Shown is an illustration of how the Elizabeth City KFC will look once an upcoming renovation effort is complete.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The El­iz­a­beth City KFC will soon be get­ting a face-lift that will focus on the restau­rant’s past as the “home” of South­ern fried chicken icon Col. Har­land San­ders.

Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise owner KBP Foods said work on the KFC, at the corner of South Hughes Boulevard and Harrell Street, will be part of a multi-million-dollar nationwide KFC brand revamping effort.

Barry Dubin, chief development officer of KBP Foods, said the franchise expects to invest more than $40 million in renovating approximately 200 KFC restaurants, including the one in Elizabeth City.

“KBP Foods recently acquired these restaurants and the reinvestment is long overdue,” franchise President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Kulp said in a news release. “I can’t wait for the people of Elizabeth City to see their new KFC.”

KBP Foods spokeswoman Michelle Doebele said the remodeled restaurant’s exterior will feature sharp red and white graphics. The colors are designed to evoke Sanders’ trademark white suit while the striped tents will illustrate his instinct for showmanship.

She said the interior will include family-style seating, dubbed the “Colonel’s table,” and a photo wall showcasing Sanders’ legacy as one of the South’s original “celebrity chefs.”

Doebele said the restaurant’s drive-thru service area will remain open while the remodeling work takes place.

Sanders, who died in 1980 at age 90, came from humble beginnings, working at various jobs before he began operating a roadside gas station in Kentucky that also served food. The station became the springboard for him to open what he called Sanders Café, as well as a motel.

Sanders became famous for being to able to rapidly cook and serve fried chicken. As a result, Kentucky’s governor at the time named him an honorary colonel.  

After the completion of Interstate 75 shifted traffic patterns away from his business, Sanders pulled out and began traveling the nation, successfully franchising his chicken business to small restaurants, which became known as Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants.

By 1964, there were more than 600 franchised Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Sanders sold his interest in Kentucky Fried Chicken for more than $2 million, but he continued working as a spokesman for the brand.

KBP Foods, which is based in the Kansas City area, operates 530 KFC and Taco Bell restaurants across 20 states.

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