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When and where was the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Wilmington?

Ben Steelman

The first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant pops up in the 1969 Wilmington City Directory at1207 N. Third St., with Manly Godwin as supervisor.  Wilmingtonians apparently liked that “finger-lickin’ good” taste; by 1971, two other Kentucky Fried Chicken locations had opened, at 1601 Dawson St. and at 4601 Market St.

Harlan Sanders — who actually was an honorary Kentucky colonel — began selling his fried chicken in the 2930s, out of a gas station he owned outside North Corbin, Ky.  The first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise opened in 1952 in Salt Lake City. In 1965, as the business boomed out of control, Sanders sold the chain to a group of investors headed by John Y. Brown Jr. (a future Kentucky governor) and Jack C. Massey.

In 1968, eager to head off competitors such as Church’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken opened 863 new outlets. The first Wilmington restaurant seems to have been part of this wave.

The KFC name was adopted in 1991, while the chain was owned by PepsiCo. In 1997, Pepsi spun off KFC. Pizza Hut and Taco Bell to Tricon (later Yum! Brands).


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One Response to “ When and where was the first Kentucky Fried Chicken in Wilmington?”

  1. On March 10, 2017 at 3:58 am Jacki Barfield London wrote:

    Kentucky Fried Chicken on Dawson Street was erected before 1971. It had to be 1969 or before. The reason I know, my mother used to send me to purchase chicken for her. She passed August 25, 1969. Recheck your records.

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