Sanders Cafe (Original KFC)

Review by: housecalldoctor

While the food is standard-issue KFC, the place is fascinating to students of culinary culture, for this is where Harlan Sanders first served what was then really delicious chicken. As much a museum as a restaurant, it is worth a visit, if not a meal.

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3 Responses to “Sanders Cafe (Original KFC)”

Esa Tikkanen

May 22nd, 2011

I went to the Sanders Cafe thinking it was going to feature Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken cooked up in cast iron skillets or something similarly romantic, as he owned a restaurant well before starting KFC. What I found was a regular KFC that tasted like any other KFC. The saving grace is the small museum area that shows a replica kitchen and some of the early equipment used to create his original recipe. I’d recommend going to see some of the history, but not to make my mistake of having unrealistic expectations about the food.

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Michael Ferreri

June 12th, 2008

I made a pilgrimmage to Sanders Cafe on my way to Louisville; I was not disappointed. I don’t normally do KFC much, but I would say the food here is no different than any other KFC. The real treat is seeing the building where it all began. The dining area is just as it was when it was Sanders’ Cafe, and you also get to see the original kitchen, the Colonel’s old office, old place settings from the cafe (when you would go there for their specialty: country ham), and some other fun, kitschy artifacts from over the years.

It is a good place to catch up on your history and have your photo with a life size statue of the Colonel. Missing from the museum is an exhibit of a major contribution introduced by KFC: the spork. There are some gift items to be picked up as a memento of your trip. It is surprisingly limited, but what else do you need other than a Colonel Sanders bobblehead doll.

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Jonathan Maxwell

September 3rd, 2007

OK, so a chain restaurant usually is not true Roadfood! But Sander’s is an exception. It is so neat to see where one man’s dream all began. Completely restored into not only a restaurant, but also a museum, it is literally living history. An addition was built in 1990 that allowed for a big lobby and a new kitchen/service counter. This also allowed the original part to remain completely intact, as the dining room and museum; so it is like eating in an era gone by. You look one way and see the recreated kitchen. You look the other way and see a recreated motel room from the defunct Sander’s Court. And of course, the dining room itself is the same as it was 50 years ago.

As for the food, the chicken is good as usual. I’d say it even tastes better in the historic ambiance! The new chicken bowls are a great way to eat the Colonel’s classic; as far as I know, everyone can get them at their local KFC. The best thing is that Sander’s Cafe is only 5 minutes off of I-75; it sits on I-75’s predecessor, US-25, about halfway between Lexington and Knoxville. If you are traveling I-75, this is worth a visit!

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