Business

A KFC franchisee turned a former bank in rural New York into 'the most beautiful KFC in the world'

Business Insider US
Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
  • I visited a one-of-a-kind KFC restaurant in Painted Post, New York.
  • The converted bank has floor-to-ceiling windows.
  • It's called the Crystal Bucket as a nod to Corning's history as the Crystal City because of its glassmaking history.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

On May 3, KFC opened one of the most impressive restaurants in its 25,000-location portfolio in Painted Post, New York.

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KFC repurposed the Chemung Canal Trust Company bank building into the "Crystal Bucket," named for its large windows.

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The name and floor-to-ceiling windows are an homage to next-door neighbour Corning's reputation as "The Crystal City," for glass company Corning Incorporated and the Corning Museum of Glass.

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"Distinctive and original, just like the iconic bucket, this new KFC features a unique design fitting for a region known for innovation," VP of marketing activation for KBP Brands Tonya Mangels said in a statement.

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Aside from the main atrium, everything about the building had to be repurposed to accommodate a fast food restaurant.

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The whole building had to be stripped from its days as a bank to be turned into a restaurant.

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About 70% of KFC's US sales are through drive-thrus, so developer KBP included an updated drive-thru in the new design.

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Though it's not a double drive-thru, it's clearly updated with clean lines and wood accents.

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The drive-thru is more than just functional.

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It also shows off the "American Showman" update that's been rolled out in other KFC locations, both new and retrofitted.

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The design is intended to "celebrate the legacy of Colonel Sanders while also bringing his down-home values and showmanship to life," designers at Nelson said of the American Showman branding.

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Over two-thirds of KFC's restaurants are now decorated in this style.

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The contrasting red, white, and black are eye-catching from the street...

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...though of course not as eye-catching as the massive windows.

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The sign felt very classic KFC though, with a drawing of Colonel Sanders.

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Every sign and piece of the exterior is a way to hammer home the KFC brand, which is all about tasty chicken.

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The windows are stunning, and also provide ample real estate for photos of fried chicken to lure customers inside.

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I especially liked the tiny details outside, like this painted KFC rock.

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I finally went inside, curious to see how the bank interior had been transformed.

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The design was very busy, with signs posted in every possible space.

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Colonel Sanders was everywhere.

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There was absolutely no danger of forgetting where I was, or why I was there.

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I was struck by the sketch-style image of the Crystal Bucket on the wall near the entrance.

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It felt very unique to the restaurant, which I liked.

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The design played off of the building's history as a bank.

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My favorite detail was the repurposed vault door, now used to protect the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.

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The floor-to-ceiling windows brought in plenty of light.

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They made the whole restaurant feel more elevated, definitely nicer than the average fast food stop.

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The ceiling and lighting were the most surprising details that I wasn't anticipating from the outside.

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The cathedral wood ceiling and hanging lights wouldn't feel out of place at a much more formal restaurant.

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Somehow, though, it fits perfectly with the windows and the classic Americana KFC design, and all came together.

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Workers told me that the windows require frequent cleanings to keep them looking pristine.

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They looked basically spotless during my visit.

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The restaurant had several other aspects of KFC's updated next-gen designs.

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Source: Insider

There was a pickup window right next to the counter for mobile orders placed on KFC's app.

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When restaurants do have these pickup shelves they can sometimes be hard to find or seem almost hidden, but this KFC had a large, lit-up arrow making it clear.

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The back area of the former bank, which had lower ceilings than the rest, was converted into the kitchen.

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Source: My Twin Tiers

In addition to digital menu boards, another digital screen displayed information about where the chickens were from and who was preparing them.

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The atrium area seats about 40 people in the 2,500-square-foot space.

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There was a mix of standard height tables, booths, and taller tables with stools.

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KFC's collaboration with Jack Harlow was impossible to miss, thanks to signs everywhere.

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A drawing of Harlow's face was even on my cup, in the same style as the drawing of Colonel Sanders, which I found a bit unsettling.

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We ordered two Big Bucket meals, which each came with sides and drinks.

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The chicken tenders are great, but I always love KFC's sides most.

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There was also a Mountain Dew flavor exclusive to KFC, though I stuck with my standard Diet Pepsi.

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The sweet tea was also tempting.

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Overall I was very impressed with the Crystal Bucket, which looked even better in person than I'd expected.

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I definitely haven't been to every location, but I understand why it's called the most beautiful KFC in the world.

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Source: The Leader

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.


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