KFC to Claudia's: The Colonel's Recipe for Revenge

The Colonel, the founder of KFC, was less than thrilled when he sold the company to the new owners. Watching the new owners play around with his famous formula was like watching a man with a moustache play around with his beard. In 1968, he and his wife, Claudie, decided to take a chance and open a new restaurant called the “Claudia Sanders Dinner House” with his wife’s wings and a prayer. The finger-licking good deed didn’t go unnoticed, as KFC was sued by the owners and the restaurant was forced to change its name to “The Colonel’s Chicken.” But the Colonel’s dream of perfect poultry was alive and well.

Why Colonel Sanders Sold KFC?

The man whose name would become synonymous with buckets and buckets of greasy goodness, was known as Colonel Sanders. Of course, he wasn’t always a Colonel. He began his journey as a small-town Kentucky gas station owner with a simple recipe and a passion for fried chicken. His fried chicken was legendary. It was so legendary that it spread faster than a grease pig on a roller skate. KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken, became synonymous with finger-licking good food all over the country. The Colonel himself, dressed in a white suit, a white beard, and a twinkle in the eye, became the face of KFC. But the man with the twinkle in the eyes and the white beard wasn’t just a business man. He cared deeply about what he created.

kfc vs colonels

The new owners tinkered with the recipe! Now, the Colonel was a man who knew his eleven herbs and spices like the back of his hand. This newfangled “fried chicken” just wasn’t cutting the mustard.Besides this, he had other issues likehel was already in his 60s when KFC started its rapid expansion. Managing a growing national chain might have been more than he wanted to handle at that stage in his life. Moreover, KFC provided him with a significant financial windfall, securing his retirement and allowing him to live comfortably.

The Colonel Takes Flight: KFC to Claudia’s Home-Cooked Heaven

The Colonel wasn’t clucking happy anymore. KFC, the fried chicken empire he built from the ground up, had changed its tune. The new owners started messing with his secret recipe, that symphony of eleven herbs and spices that made KFC finger-lickin’ good. The Colonel, a man of tradition, couldn’t stomach it. This wasn’t the chicken he spent years perfecting, the crispy, juicy goodness that had folks lining up for buckets. So, the Colonel did what any self-respecting chicken connoisseur would do: he marched out with his wife Claudia by his side and opened their own restaurant. Claudia Sanders Dinner House became their haven, a place where the Colonel could finally serve his chicken the way it deserved to be served. It was a delicious rebellion, a way to show the world what true fried chicken tasted like.

claudia sanders dinner house

The Legal Action Against Colonels

After Colonel Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964, things got spicy. The new owners (Heublein) changed the food, which didn’t sit well with the Colonel. He wasn’t shy about voicing his disapproval.  While legally allowed to use his image thanks to the sale agreement, Heublein wasn’t happy when the Colonel opened a new restaurant with his wife Claudia and the word “Colonel” in the name. This disagreement ended up in court in 1973 with a lawsuit against Sanders.

Counter Lawsuit

The Colonel’s KFC critiques got him into hot water. A franchise owner sued after he called their gravy “wallpaper paste” and the chicken a “doughball.” Luckily, the judge threw the case out.

Meanwhile, the Colonel wasn’t playing nice either. He sued KFC for a whopping $122 million! He claimed they interfered with his new restaurant and used his image to sell stuff he never approved of, like pastries and ribs. The Colonel even took aim at KFC’s failed ventures like the “Kentucky Roast Beef” chain. His famous quote sums it up: “How much of me do they really own?”

In the end, a settlement was reached. The Colonel’s restaurant changed its name to Claudia Sanders Dinner House, and he got $1 million. A planned second location never opened.

New Management Takes Flight: The Settles Take Over Claudia’s

The Colonel found new management for Claudia Sanders Dinner House in 1973.  Tommy and Cherry Settle, familiar faces from KFC, approached the Colonel about opening a KFC franchise.  However, the Colonel surprised them by offering them the chance to run Claudia Sanders Dinner House instead.  He even provided them with the financial backing they needed to take over the restaurant.

Claudia Sanders dinner house

Today’s Claudia Sanders Dinner House

As you step inside the grand building, a sweeping staircase unfolds before you. Take a moment to admire the collection of historical artifacts dedicated to Colonel and Claudia Sanders.  Heading in, you’ll find a gift shop on your right stocked with goodies like the Claudia Sanders Dinner House Cookbook and their famous chicken seasoning. 

kfc vs colonel

The restaurant offers a taste of Southern cooking alongside a chance to learn about Colonel Sanders and his wife Claudia through historical artifacts.While they likely have fried chicken on the menu, Claudia Sanders Dinner House seems to offer a wider range of Southern dishes beyond just fried chicken.

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