Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky is the birthplace of one of America’s icons, and my husband’s favorite fast food restaurant, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
We’ve driven past the Corbin exit on I-75 for years and each time, I’ve commented how much fun it would be to stop and grab a bite to eat ‘next time around’. When we planned our road trip to the Smokies, I knew the time had arrived for us to finally stop and take a look around.
As we pulled into the parking lot, my kids groaned. They were clearly not impressed by Sanders Cafe, but I encouraged them not to judge a book by its cover.
Stepping inside the cafe, you’ll immediately see a couple display cases showcasing some memorabilia from bygone days and a fast food counter that looks much like the counter at any other KFC across the country.
While my husband placed our order and waited for our food, the kids and I wandered around, viewing the display cases. We saw KFC memorabilia, original place settings, menus and even scraps of paper with hand-written recipes.
The kids’ and I took turns posing with the life-size Colonel Sanders statue in all our travel worn glory. Don’t judge, this was a let’s-jump-in-the-car-and-go-before-we-change-our-mind kind of trip, to put it nicely.
Stepping into the dining room was like stepping back in time. I’m told the dark creaking floors and dark paneled walls are reminiscent of the original 1940’s lobby.
Surrounding the lobby are several displays, including the kitchen where the original “Finger Lickin’ Good” Kentucky Fried Chicken was perfected.
We also learned that while Colonel Sanders made Kentucky Fried Chicken a household name, he didn’t always serve only chicken. He welcomed his guests for a breakfast of Smithfield ham, biscuits, gravy, fresh eggs and good ole’ Southern grits.
You’ll see Colonel Sanders office and a replica of one of the sleeping rooms that was part of the Sanders Motor Court.
The sleeping room was actually part of the Colonel’s marketing strategy to encourage traveling guests of the cafe to rent a room in his Motor Court. Knowing that the lady of the house was the one to okay a room, he built a replica room in his dining room which contained the restroom for the cafe.
He hoped that as women passed through to the restroom, they would be impressed by the modern facility and encourage their husband’s to rent a room in his Motor Court.
You’ll find more display cases inside the dining room filled with kitschy artifacts that are fun to look at. A small selection of souvenirs are also sold at the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum so you can prove to all your friends that you made the pilgrimage to the “Home of the Original Recipe Chicken”.
And you won’t be alone, judging from the varied license plates in the parking lot and the cameras I saw in use inside the building, this small roadside attraction draws a quite a number of visitors that are not locals.
Important Information about the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum:
Address: 688 U.S. Route 25W North Corbin, Kentucky
Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Group Tours can be arranged in advance.
Want to learn more? Visit this website: http://colonelsanders.com/history_colonelSanders.asp
Interestingly, Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum is listed as a roadside attraction, one that is definitely worth a little detour and even my teens’ agree.
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Are you a fan of Kentucky Fried Chicken? Would you ever consider stopping at the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky?
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