Retropolis Retro Tour of America - The ORIGINAL Kentucky Fried Chicken / KFC / Sanders Court & Cafe in North Corbin, Kentucky

Our next retro travel stop in our Retro Tour of America is North Corbin, Kentucky. When people all over the world think of Kentucky, one of the first things that comes to mind is "Kentucky Fried Chicken", thanks to Colonel Harland Sanders. Colonel Sanders took several different career paths before he started serving chicken in his gas station in North Corbin, Kentucky when he was 40 years old. Over time, he began to develop what we now know as the "Original Recipe" (although none of us really know the secret recipe). The "Sanders Court & Cafe", as it was known back then, eventually expanded. 

Colonel Sanders' restaurant remained successful for the next 25 years until he faced a challenge when he was in his mid 60's. A new interstate was built, but unfortunately his restaurant, which had been a travel stop for many travelers, was not located along the new interstate. I have seen this story many times here at Retropolis. Many successful restaurants, diners, drive-ins and motels suffered after new interstates were built if they were not located right off the interstate. If you drive along old routes in America that were once THE roads used by travelers before interstates came along, you will see some old, abandoned motels, diners and drive-ins that were once shiny and successful in the 1950's. That could have happened to Colonel Sanders too. 

But, Colonel Sanders had an idea. Perhaps it was the fact that he was used to career changes in life before he ever started serving chicken at his gas station that gave him the understanding that when unexpected changes in life happened, he had to be willing to make changes too in order to continue to be successful. So, he began searching the country for franchisees. His first franchised restaurant was in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you take your mind back in time, woud you have ever imagined that the first restaurant called "KENTUCKY Fried Chicken" to open would be in Salt Lake City, UTAH? I would have never imagined that. But, this is why Colonel Sanders was successful. He knew his chicken was well loved in Kentucky and by people traveling through Kentucky, so he knew people would love it elsewhere. Perhaps he knew that people in a state far away from Kentucky would enjoy being able to dine it a restaurant where they could enjoy his tasty fried chicken and almost feel like they are enjoying it in Kentucky, because of the name. Colonel Sanders thought outside the box. Or... the bucket. And because of that, more than 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchised restaurants opened. 

Less than ten years after Colonel Sanders began his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant franchise, he sold it for $2 million. Source: Wikipedia

Colonel Sanders had become a multi-millionaire before he was 75, even though he didn't even begin his Kenucky Fried Chicken franchise until his mid-60's. This is a great reminder for us every time we think "I'm too old to begin ____ now." No, we're not. Can you imagine if Colonel Sanders thought that? What would have become of his restaurant in North Corbin, Kentucky? There never would have been a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Colonel Sanders never would have been a millionaire. In fact, he went on to help charities, and his trust continues to help charities to this day.  None of this would have happened if he didn't just "go for it."

I remember hearing a late night talk radio show years ago in which a man in his early 50's was seeking advice about becoming a doctor. He had always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but he was concerned about how long it would take him to go through medical school and become a doctor. I regret that I don't recall who gave the advice, because it was excellent. Quite simply, he could go to medical school and become a doctor by the time he was in his 60's. Or, he could not go to medical school, and he would still reach his 60's one day regardless, but he would not be a doctor in his 60's. He would be doing exactly what he was already doing for a living, which wasn't making him happy. Hmmmm. What would Colonel Sanders do? :-)

So, go for it! Colonel Sanders did, and we can be reminded of him any time we pass a KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken, anywhere all over the world.

Colonel Sanders died at the age of 90 because of pneumonia, but his memory certainly lives on. 

You can see where it all began in North Corbin, Kentucky at the Harland Sanders Cafe & Museum. It became a museum in 1990. You can dine at the modern KFC next to the original Harland Sanders Cafe. Thank you to Betty at Betty's Kitchen for providing the tour of the Harland Sanders Cafe & Museum on YouTube! You can learn from Betty how to make popcorn chicken.