Sanders Café and Museum reopens in Corbin

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Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 12:38 PM EDT
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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - After nearly three years, the Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin — the historic birthplace of Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe — is reopening its dining room and museum.

KFC and JRN, Inc., a KFC Franchisee and operator of the restaurant and museum, hosted the grand reopening on Friday.

“Our mother and father saved it from the wrecking ball in 1973 and restored it,” JRN Inc. President Tyrone Neal said. “The last restoration was done in 1990. Here we are today, celebrating the reopening of the Sanders Café and Museum.”

The eatery closed in 2019 for extensive renovations. The updated restaurant and museum now feature a, “unique and world-class design that preserves the historical integrity of the location,” according to KFC officials.

The café's reopening was originally delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Neal said it is all about telling a Kentuckian’s famous story.

“He started KFC at the age of 65, living out of a station wagon with a $105 social security check,” he said. “That rags to riches story, that true story, his story was one of goodwill.”

City officials are expecting a huge boost in tourism once word gets around.

“Not only are we going to be able to attract new visitors to our destination,” Corbin Tourism Executive Director Maggy Monhollen said. “We’ll be able to attract repeat visitors. So, people that say I’ve been to the original KFC, we can say no you haven’t.”

Monhollen said they are anxious for those results.

“It’s something that is just so spectacular and will attract families,” she said. “A variety of different people...not just from the United States, from all over the world.”

Neal said it was a sigh of relief when the ribbon was cut.

“We’re very excited to have it back open,” he said. “To have the original restaurant, the original KFC restaurant, open to the public today.”

The ceremony allowed the attraction’s new renovations be unveiled.

“Even see some of the old spice cans,” Neal said. “Of course, they are covered because it’s a secret recipe that he developed in 1939.”

Monhollen said that is her favorite part.

“I highly suggest the secret recipe spices room,” she said. “Once you go into that room, you are hit with this beautiful aroma of secret herbs and spices.”

Neal said it is important to preserve the restaurant’s history.

“His home is right next to this building,” he said. “The old path that goes from the home to the Sanders Café, is still there today.”

Corbin officials said they are excited for visitors to hear the story of Colonel Harland Sanders.

“What they take with them is that the realization of Colonel Sanders,” Monhollen said. “He really did achieve his quest for the American dream.”

The café is located at 688 Hwy 25 in Corbin.

It is open Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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