KFC is planning an unprecedented restaurant makeover — here’s a sneak peek

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FRCH Design Worldwide

KFC is undergoing a makeover – including in areas that most customers will never see.

More than 50 KFC locations across the US have been remodeled as part of a multimillion-dollar brand-revamp effort. In the next three years, 70% of the chain’s US locations, or 3,000 restaurants, will look completely different.

The fried-chicken chain began testing aspects of the remodel in 2014, using a revitalization strategy crafted by FRCH Design Worldwide.

Here’s what it’s like to visit one remodeled location in Louisville, Kentucky – inside, outside, and behind the scenes.


The remodeled location is immediately different than a traditional KFC, with bold white stripes and a roof that resembles a popped top of a bucket of chicken, intended to grab the attention of hungry drivers.

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Kate Taylor

Inside, a light shaped like a bucket immediately grabs your attention — a bucket chandelier of sorts. The light hangs over a large circular table, inspired by Colonel Sanders’ first restaurant, where all customers sat around a single table, family style.

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Kate Taylor

The Colonel is everywhere at the remodeled location — especially the back wall, covered in photos of Sanders. Variations on the Sanders-themed red wall will be included in each remodeled location.

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Kate Taylor

Little touches of Colonel Sanders appear throughout the location. KFC’s chief development officer, Brian Cahoe, says the redesign and KFC’s Colonel Sanders-centric ad campaign go hand in hand in revamping the brand’s image and bringing customers back to KFC.

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Kate Taylor

Some Sanders-inspired elements are lighthearted nods to KFC’s long history. The brand has both a museum and extensive archives in Louisville that were referenced for inspiration in the redesign and Sanders-centric marketing.

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Kate Taylor

Others are more direct references to some of KFC’s recent problems. Internally at KFC, Colonel Sanders represents high-quality chicken and “doing things the hard way” — something the redesign attempts to spell out to customers.

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Kate Taylor

In April, KFC announced it was undergoing “Re-Colonelization,” which it describes as a public recommitment to quality, involving national employee retraining and a new satisfaction guarantee. Remodeled locations have a framed “Real Meal Guarantee,” plus a KFC flag signed by employees.

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Kate Taylor

Blackboards tell customers where the chicken comes from and identifies the chef who is cooking the chicken that day, in an attempt to combat negative stereotypes about KFC’s “Franken-chicken.”

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Kate Taylor

Behind the scenes, the emphasis on Re-Colonelization continues. The chain has spent more than 100,000 worker-hours retraining more than 20,000 employees.

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Kate Taylor

With more focus on food quality, executives say employees feel increasingly proud to work at KFC — a feeling the new kitchen decorations attempt to tap into.

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Kate Taylor

The focus on quality food continues in the drive-thru, with a sign promising “Real Meals To Go.”

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Kate Taylor

The redesign is intended to be adaptable, depending on restaurants’ size, location, customer flow, and more. At the Louisville location, for example, a neighboring car wash allowed KFC to paint “Real Meals To Go” on a blank white wall, to maintain the clean red-and-white color coordination.

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Kate Taylor

It takes just eight days for a KFC location to transform from its old design (as shown here) to its remodeled look — and, most restaurants keep the drive-thru open throughout the process. KFC says this ease, plus the promise of reduced employee turnover and rising sales, has made the redesign an easy sell for franchisees. As a result, you can expect your local KFC will be looking very different, very soon.

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Tim Boyle / Getty Images