The spirit of the Colonel lives on!

Years ago a friend and I drove to Vancouver, then down the west coast as far as Tijuana, and back home to Montreal across the midwestern states, which is how we wound up in Corbin Kentucky. That’s right, the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken! Although I’d only sampled KFC’s finger lickin’ goodness once or twice before, we couldn’t just drive past without checking it out. Expecting a glorified shrine of sorts (we had just visited Graceland) I was pleasantly surprised at how low key and homey they had kept Harland Sanders original wood clad restaurant, like so:

KFC’s birthplace in Corbin, Kentucky.

As this interpretive plaque explains, Harland tried various careers with little success before catching his groove cooking chicken, and the rest is history.

The Colonel’s story cast in bronze.

Now of course KFC is a gargantuan fast food enterprise, but in one of its transitional phases from monstrous to gargantuan, it unloaded many of it’s trademark outlets that looked like this.

Older KFC outlet

Over the course of my local bike ride adventures I’ve noticed three outlets have been converted into small, one off restaurants, just like the Colonel’s first digs so many years ago. SO, I decided to visit all three, with a couple of extra stops along the way.

First stop, Ottawa U’s Academic Hall. Built in 1901, it is the oldest theatre in the National Capital Region.

Academic Hall

On my way to the first ex-KFC, I paused to photo this panorama from the centre of Parc Jules Morin. This is also Angel Square, popularized by Brian Doyle in his story of the same name, and adapted to the stage by Jan Irwin.

Angel Square

Casa do Churrasco, at the corner of St Andrew and Dalhousie, once served up yummy Portuguese food. Unfortunately it didn’t survive. In its KFC conversion they removed the big bucket sign but kept the sign post to use as a planter holder.

Casa do Churrasco

I headed down the path behind Majors Hill Park, but someone left all the canal locks open, except the top most one near Sappers Bridge. Usually one of the two lower ones are closed, providing access to the other side. No problem. It just meant climbing all the way up to the top of the locks, affording me this wonderful view back down to the river.

Canal locks

Next stop: Hintonburger. Lots has been written about this new kid on the block. They haven’t even taken down the big bucket yet. (Update, August 6, 2013 – They took the bucket down).


My final ex-KFC destination was Mia’s Indian Cuisine further west on Richmond Road near Woodroffe. Richmond hasn’t much of a shoulder on the north side to ride on and traffic can be pretty speedy in this area so I followed the winding path straddling Richmond and Byron.

Winding path between Richmond and Byron

Samsu Mia is a refugee from Bangladesh. His story, and how he and his family managed to start up Mia’s Indian Cuisine restaurant in another converted KFC outlet, can be found in this CBC report by clicking here. There’s even a bonus photo of the original KFC included in the article to compare to how it looks now.


I ordered a couple of vegetable samosa’s and onion bhaji from the take out menu to share with Carla and the kids. It’s all I could fit in my handle bar bag.

Interior of Mia’s

So there you go. Two out of three successful Kentucky Fried Phoenixes risen from their ashes!

Author: ottawavelo


2 thoughts on “The spirit of the Colonel lives on!”

  1. By the time I got home and divvied up my Indian take-out amongst the clan I was left with half a cold vegi samosa and onion bhaji. They were good but I’ll have to go back and have a proper meal before I can give Mia’s a fair review. Maybe turn it into a group Ottawa Velo Outaouais outing!

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