A plan to sell a historic mansion owned by Colonel Sanders and his wife has hit the rock due to the controversy trailing the building. The Claudia Sanders Dinner House is a site of attention for tourists and locals who always visit the restaurant for delicious fried chicken, homemade pies, and coleslaw.
Recently, the 63-year-old eatery in Shelbyville, KY, was auctioned, and some interested buyers showed interest and revealed plans to franchise the business and build other outlets outside the town for the first time. However, KFC is hell-bent on seeing that the deal falls through because of a perceived rivalry with its parent YUM! brand.
KFC filed a lawsuit
In a bid to protect their business interest, KFC arranged a legal team who immediately submitted a filing to the US Patent & Trademark Office after the building was put up for sale. The lawsuit aims to strengthen the protection of KFC trademarks, including “Colonel Sanders’ Original Recipe,” “Col. Harland Sanders,” and “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good.” However, YUM! failed to react to comments and respond to calls as regards the issue, but KFC is popularly known to be uptight when it comes to information about its fried chicken recipe, Sanders’ original 11 spices, and herbs.
On the other hand, Jonathan Klunk of Six Degrees Real Estate, which is in charge of executing the sale of the house, revealed that it is a very dicey deal. “It’s a very unique situation, We are selling Claudia and she doesn’t have as much name recognition as her husband, but a buyer can’t describe her without mentioning both her husband and KFC,” Klunk reveals. “If you want to use the Claudia Sanders brand, you have to have a team of intellectual property lawyers.”
Klunk further explained that there are “a lot of similarities” between the restaurants’ menus but that the Dinner House has “no connection with KFC recipe.”
The historic restaurant
Col. Harland Sanders and Claudia Sanders tied the knot in 1949. Harland bought a 3-acre property where he built a Claudia Sanders Dinner House for his wife and their 5,000sqft private home, Blackwood, in 1959. Prior to Sanders’s death in 1980, Sanders family friends Tommy and Cherry Settle purchased the property and created a plant that supplied the restaurant with Hams. Currently, the couple is planning to retire.
The lovers (Tommy and Cherry Settle) had a legal brush with YUM! in 2001 when Tommy discovered a leather-bound datebook that belonged to Col. Sanders from 1964 in the Basement of Blackwood hall. The book detailed a list of 11 herbs and spices, which Tommy planned to validate the recipe so he could sell it, however, YUM! sued him, and he was forced to keep it private pending the time the company could vet it. The lawsuit was dismissed when YUM! claimed the recipe wasn’t even close to the original.
Colonel Sanders might be sold in bits
Tommy and Cherry Settle have placed a $9 million offer on their intellectual property, the two buildings, the 3-acre parking lot, the first KFC flag and bucket, and a birthday letter to Sanders from President Richard Nixon.
Six Degrees is now contemplating not selling the property as a whole because selling each piece separately might interest and attract more buyers. “One potential buyer talked about turning the Colonel’s house into a high-end Airbnb rental, while a couple of Kentucky bourbon brands are weighing expansions into comfort food,” Klunk explained. “Others are exploring licensing its popular dishes, especially its famous yeast rolls, for sale in supermarkets.”
Sadly, Klunk revealed that none of the bidders are moving forward with the deal, as some are taking time out to consult YUM! on what they can do with the brand without entering any litigation battle, “If you want to use the Claudia Sanders brand you have to have a team of intellectual property lawyers.”