Thursday, December 18, 2014

Restaurant keeping more than Colonel’s secret recipe quiet

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 7/31/2013

A flurry of cleaning was underway in the kitchen prep area of the KFC restaurant late Tuesday afternoon.

But the crew wasn’t preparing for the evening dinner crowd. A couple, who only identified themselves as the married owners of the restaurant, were busy hauling out garbage and cleaning up the last remnants of what had been, until recently, a fast-food restaurant at 2121 S. Princeton St.

A flurry of cleaning was underway in the kitchen prep area of the KFC restaurant late Tuesday afternoon.

But the crew wasn’t preparing for the evening dinner crowd. A couple, who only identified themselves as the married owners of the restaurant, were busy hauling out garbage and cleaning up the last remnants of what had been, until recently, a fast-food restaurant at 2121 S. Princeton St.

A sign in the window that read, “Closed, Out of Stock,” provided the only explanation as to why the restaurant had shut its doors. The couple didn’t offer much more insight as they stood at the back door of the restaurant about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re closed. That’s all,” the woman said.

When asked if they planned to reopen the restaurant, move to another location or sell the business, the man said, “No comment,” and returned inside to continue his work.

The property is owned by Elaine Cook of Lenexa, according to the Franklin County Appraiser office’s website. Cook owns other properties in Ottawa, the county appraiser’s records show.

Cook recently sold the China Palace restaurant property, 910 S. Main St., and she still owns the adjacent property to the north where the Subway restaurant is in operation at 902 S. Main St. Longtime residents said the Subway location originally was the site of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The Princeton Street building was built in 1998 as a KFC restaurant, according to county appraiser’s records.

While Cook owns the KFC building, that doesn’t mean she was involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. Property owners often lease their buildings to restaurant franchisees but are not involved in running the restaurants.

It was not clear what Cook’s relationship was with the now-closed chicken franchise outlet. Several calls to Cook’s Lenexa home went unanswered. A phone number for the Ottawa KFC was disconnected when called Tuesday.

The abrupt closing did not appear to be the result of delinquent taxes or food safety violations.

A Kansas Department of Revenue spokesperson confirmed Tuesday the department had not taken any action against the business, nor had it issued any warrants because of delinquent taxes.

City of Ottawa officials said no requests had been made to shut off utilities to the property, and no permits had been violated.

Also, a search of the Kansas Department of Agriculture food safety inspections website indicated no violations had occurred at the restaurant in the past year since July 24, 2012.

Some KFC franchisees have been embroiled lately in squabbles with the Louisville, Ky.-based KFC Corporation. One of those franchise companies, Kazi Foods, reported in June that it was shutting three stores in Colorado and six stores in California because of disputes it was having with KFC Corporation.

A call to the KFC corporate office in Louisville went unreturned Wednesday.

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