KFC delights Bulawayo diners

Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC as it more affectionately known, is world famous for its Original Recipe fried chicken – made with the same secret blend of 11 herbs and spices Colonel Harland Sanders perfected more than a halfcentury ago. Every day, more than 12 million customers are served at KFC restaurants in 109 countries and territories around the world. In Zimbabwe, KFC has been serving delicious meals since 2014 and they’re growing every year, opening new restaurants nationwide in a plan to bring a KFC outlet near you. There are already four KFC outlets in Harare – (Westgate, Belgravia, Joina City and Simon Mazorodze Road) – one in Victoria Falls – and their newest drive-through and restaurant outlet which opened in Bulawayo in August last year.

The Bulawayo Drive Through and Restaurant is located at the Bradfield Shopping Centre, corner of Hillside Road and 23rd Avenue. KFC restaurants and drive throughs have a similar ‘look’ or feel around the world to enhance their corporate image and ensure that their outlets are immediately recognisable. The KFC brand is constantly up-dating and modernising the restaurants design specifications to keep up with an increasingly competitive market. Traditionally KFCs were more family/home orientated while the new focus is more on a ‘fast-casual’ and urban trendy appeal. According to the website Business Insider 70 per cent of the brands 4,900 worldwide will have been up-dated by the end 2017.

The Bulawayo Drive Through and Restaurant was designed by Architect Graham Cochrane and Architectural Assistant Caspar Kumire from local company Architectural and Planning Studio (APS). Although APS had a huge manual of design specs to incorporate he was able to include some elements with a unique and distinctly Zimbabwean feel. Previously their front of house design layouts have tended to be very prescriptive and fairly rigid – however the newer design specs are more flexible and are basically a kit of parts which can be assembled in different ways and adapted to local conditions. Realizing that it’s not one size fits all, part of the brief reads, “Design teams are encouraged to use professional discernment, maintaining the integrity of the design concept, designing solutions which follow the design principles in this manual.

Design solutions need to be cost effective, easy to build, and comply with the applicable building regulations. All design proposals must be closely coordinated with mechanical, electrical and structural requirements.” Fortunately there was no existing building on the site so Cochrane was able to start from scratch. Some important elements to be considered for the site plan were the way motor traffic would flow in from the access roads, the traffic flow in and out of the drive through, ample parking for sit down diners and easy access for foot traffic.

Another important feature of the exterior design was to ensure that signage was positioned to be prominent and clearly visible for passing traffic, and that the building itself should be an instantly recognisable icon. Flags and teardrop banners clearly identify the brand during the day and at night the double height signage at the main entrance and the lamp post sign on the curb are illuminated. The red Chromadek facade at the entrance to the drivethrough further re-enforces the branding

Pale floor and wall tiles and a black suspended ceiling are softened by the judicious use of natural materials like timber and exposed brick. Pops of colour in the predominantly red signage, red banquettes, coloured details on the chairs and stools, and the chalk board all help to make the space feel vibrant and family friendly. Architectural and Planning Studio has achieved the ‘fast-casual’ appeal which epitomises the new KFC branding combined with some uniquely local appeal.

The verandah next to the walk-in entrance is a particularly Zimbabwean adaptation. The verandah has a slatted roof with Heatstop translucent roof sheets so it’s fairly cool even when the Bulawayo sun is blazing and diners can still outside when it’s raining. Large pendant lights mean the verandah can be used at night whatever the weather. The verandah seating area is demarcated by low brick planter boxes and taller cylindrical concrete pots. (The planter boxes and pots and the surrounding landscaping make use of waterwise and low maintenance succulents and aloes.) The verandah can comfortably seat around 40 diners on wooden tables and benches and is great for families with younger kids.

Some KFC fun facts

  • The secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices was first developed in 1939. The same recipe is still used across the world today.
  • It really is a secret recipe, locked away in a vault in Louisville, Kentucky. Only a handful of people know the multi-million dollar recipe and they have signed strict confidentiality contracts. Not even the spice companies that mix the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices know the complete recipe.
  • Colonel Sanders’ first meals were served to hungry travellers visiting his Service Station in Corbin, Kentucky in 1930. He didn’t have a restaurant, but served meals at his own dining table in the living quarters of the service station.

    text by Michael Nott

  • photos by Chris Scott of Scotty Photography

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