In the late 1930s, Harland Sanders was running a gas station on Highway 25 in North Corbin, Kentucky, when he started cooking for the hungry travelers, serving up home-cooked meals on his own dining room table. Soon word got out about Sanders’s cooking and travelers looking to fill up their stomachs (as well as their gas tanks) started to flock to the little shop situated on the main road for anyone heading north-south through central Kentucky.
By 1937, he moved the restaurant out of his kitchen and into the Sanders Café, which seated 142 people. It was in the kitchens of Sanders Court, as it was called, that Sanders started tinkering with his fried chicken recipe, eventually stumbling on 11 herbs and spices that became part of his secret recipe. Soon his little gas station and restaurant became a destination for anyone who really loved perfectly fried chicken.
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When the restaurant was destroyed by fire two years later, Sanders rebuilt, tacking a motel onto the new restaurant when it reopened in mid 1940. Business was booming until Interstate 75 was completed. The new highway bypassed Corbin and Sanders’ café and motel turning them from a main attraction to an off-the-beaten path destination. Sanders sold the café in 1956. Instead of selling fried chicken, he started selling fried chicken franchises, setting up the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain. It wasn’t until 1965, at the age of 75, that he sold his interest in the company for $2 million (equal to $14,161,464 today!).
While Sanders passed away in 1980, the Harland Sanders Café is still open for business in Corbin. Hungry travelers can still fill their stomachs with the Colonel’s famous fried chicken sitting in a wood-lined dining room with the original 1940s maple tables and chairs. After a hearty lunch, a museum’s worth of KFC memorabilia fills the space, including "Bertha," the original pressure cooker he used to make his chicken, a model of the old motel rooms, and, according to Roadside America, “a three-handed Cooking Clock designed by Sanders for his early franchisees, so they'd always know when to take the chicken off the stove.” The Harland Sanders Café was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 7, 1990, cementing its place in history.