Sunday, March 18, 2012

40-Year KFCs Closed In Old Saybrook and New London

The corner street fried-chicken fixture for almost 40 years sits vacantly, just down the road from the busy business epicenter of US-1 in Old Saybrook.

Longtime owner Douglas J. Beach sold his withering but well-kept 'vintage' properties formerly housing nearly 40-year old Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Old Saybrook just last December as well as his other one in New London on Bank Street. Both cozier locations marked an impressive, 40-plus year stint on 735 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook and 922 Bank St. in New London. These modestly small ones like Old Saybrook at 2,160 sq. ft. sits like a chicken on the corner of Lynde St., hoping for a new life or a revitalized lease in the fried chicken franchiser. 

Yes, I've always thought these 70's looking stores looked like perched chickens. Probably just me... 

Purchaser Village Plaza has claimed the Old Saybrook property, who bought the site in December 2010 has yet to make something of it.

New London opened in 1970 and Old Saybrook one year later, both locations remained time capsules to its respective era with a compact dining room (likely later expanded) and never having been fitted for drive-thrus, practically standard on fast food joints by the late 70's and 80's. No corporate polish or spacious parking, the sunburnt road sign mirrored the hip 'KFC' acronyming fad of 1990's against a wave of fresh white and red paint jobs over the years keeping the store looking ripe in the 2000's. 

Back in 2008, The Caldor Rainbow made pilgrimage to gather images of all the lingering KFCs in the CT/Mass./NY regions still hanging onto vestiges of 70s and 80s tones. We found a pretty impressive array including the age-old Old Saybrook, CT location upon which we were stricken with finger-lickin' grief to find it had been closed since late 2010 and later with New London having closed in June 2011. 2006-2008 was a period many of these locations were finally getting their remodels after decades of neglect.



Louisville, KY based Americana restaurant Kentucky Fried Chicken or KFC (or KGC -- Colonel certainly would not approve of) went franchise in 1952 and started a wave across America with his signature blend of 11 herbs and spices and has become a cultural icon since. In recent years, KFC is a chain that has seen many store demolitions for newer shops, vacations ('vacate'tions as in moved to other sites), especially close to our region with franchise owner Jessie Lanier and the closing of all eight of his Springfield, MA area and two Connecticut stores.

We were saddened to find no local reports or even some history. Sure, it's 'just a chain' among a sea of them but behind everyone are stories, memories and a dedication to service. We especially liked seeing these stores modest in size hanging in there in an age of polyurethane seats and plastic facades without unique identities like they used to be.

There are now five(ish) known vacant KFCs in Connecticut; Old Saybrook, New London, Enfield (Hazard Ave.), a long-old timer on Enfield St. and Windsor Locks. The chain retains (a whopping) 41 locations in Connecticut, oddball fact, only three (Southington, Torrington and Bristol) still have buffets. 

See more pictures of both locations and the rest of our Kentucky Fried Chicken stores on Flickr. Actually, most of those shown are now closed.

EDIT (April 10, 2012): Story has been amended thanks to reader Greg, who informed us the New London location, also owned by Mr. Beach, is closed.


Moo said...

Clever & goofy closing line!
Great post.

Reesie Cup said...

This is unrelated to your article, but I just wanted to let you know that Toys R Us is now selling "retro" bags with old designs of Jeffery. I was shocked when I found one and bought one on the spot. The guy at the store told me that sadly there are no other products with this design.

I thought of you first and your wonderful blog. Here's a pic:

Colleen H said...

Long time lurker, first-time commenter. I'm so glad to see that you're back. I love this blog, and I stumbled upon it again when looking for some photos of the Holyoke Mall.

I'm sure that you could collect some interesting personal histories about that mall...

I was in a tiny town in the the Adirondacks two weeks ago, and I mentioned that I was from Western Mass. "Oh! We LOVE the Holyoke Mall!" Okay, then. I had no idea that place had such broad appeal. To me it's always just been "The Mall."

greg8370 said...

KFC in New London on Bank Street closed last year