Sanders Cafe and Museum

Visit this Corbin, Kentucky, landmark where Harland Sanders launched his famous fried-chicken restaurant. 

The dining room at the Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky (photo by Mark A. Steele)

A renovation and expansion of the Sanders Cafe and Museum completed in 2022 offers travelers a new way to walk through a bit of fast-food history and learn about the place where Kentucky Fried Chicken got its start. In 1930, Harland Sanders (aka The Colonel) opened his first restaurant — a single table with six chairs inside a gas station — that later expanded into a much larger restaurant and adjacent motel. 

After franchising sales of his famous pressure-fried chicken cooked with 11 secret herbs and spices, Sanders’ business quickly exploded into the global phenomenon that is today known simply as KFC.

The original location in Corbin, Kentucky, still operates as a functioning KFC restaurant, the difference is that you can enjoy your meal inside a large museum filled with a huge collection of memorabilia. See furniture from the original cafe, a model motel room and more. 

Also on view is a reconstruction of the original Kentucky Fried Chicken kitchen, featuring a three-handed clock Sanders devised for precise timing of the chicken’s preparation. An Herb and Spice Room has vials of nearly 200 seasonings, allowing visitors to guess which are the secret 11.

The museum also displays a timeline of the business’ growth over the decades, but the real crowd pleasers here are the kitschy artifacts on display, like Colonel Sanders bobblehead dolls and a Pez dispenser featuring the famous founder’s image.

There’s a wall detailing the “History of the Bucket” and a video loop of KFC commercials from over the years, as well as a tutorial of Sanders showing the proper preparation of fried chicken. Don’t leave without getting a photo of yourself standing beside the statue of The Colonel in his iconic white suit. 688 U.S. Highway 25 W., Corbin, Kentucky 40701, 606/528-2163,