Posts From The Road: Birthplace Of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Sanders Cafe: The Sanders Cafe opened in 1940 in Corbin, Ky. The cafe was near the street and the motel was built in the typical L-shaped design behind the cafe. Photo by Gary Warren/

Sanders Kitchen: The cafe kitchen is where Sanders perfected his recipe for his fried chicken. While chicken was the draw, this cafe served patrons breakfast, lunch and dinner. Photo by Gary Warren/ 

Formerly of Los Alamos

The “Post From The Road” this week comes out of the archives as we are limiting our travel this year.

We traveled east in 2016 and one of our stops was in Corbin, Ky. This small town in southeast Kentucky is the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Harland Sanders owned a gas station in Corbin, which is on the major north/south route in the eastern states. As travel slowed during the depression years, Sanders began serving chicken to patrons who could sit and eat at the station’s one table or take the meal out.

By 1937, Sanders opened a small restaurant across the street. That original restaurant burned in 1939. Sanders rebuilt a larger cafe with a motel adjacent to the restaurant, which opened in 1940. That is the building that stands today but the motel has since been demolished.

The restaurant serves the same menu as all KFC franchise today, but that is where similarities end. The interior is still reminiscent of the Sanders Cafe operated by Harland Sanders for many years.

Editor’s note: Longtime Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren and his wife Marilyn are traveling around the country and he shares his photographs, which appear in the ‘Posts from the Road’ series published in the Sunday edition of the Los Alamos Daily Post.

Cafe Surprise: One feature in the cafe was a model of the motel rooms adjacent to the restaurant. The women’s restroom was next to the motel room so women travelers would see the quality of the rooms and convince the family to stay the night. The payphone also was located in the room so that anyone who used the phone got a view of the room. Photo by Gary Warren/

Mementos: The interior of this KFC looks more like a museum than a typical KFC. There are mementos of the early years throughout the restaurant. The dining room looks the same as it did in the 1940s with wood paneling on the walls and wooden tables and chairs. It feels like a cafe or diner from days gone by. Photo by Gary Warren/

Jute Box: The jute box that was used in the cafe is one of many furnishings from the cafe on display. Photo by Gary Warren/

Cash Register: The cash register used in the original cafe is on display in this historic location. Photo by Gary Warren/

The Man: A life size sculpture of Harland Sanders provides a photo op for visitors, including former Los Alamos photographer Gary Warren, to this unusual but interesting stop in Corbin, Ky. Photo by Marilyn Warren