One of Statesboro's oldest restaurants is preparing to close its doors at the end of business tonight. The Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at 202 North Main Street will cease operations after 36 years in its current location.
“It really saddens us to be forced to close a restaurant that has been such a landmark in Statesboro for so many years," said Dana Sanders, director of operations for the Hodges Management Company, owner of the restaurant. "Like me, many people have very fond memories of eating Original Recipe Chicken in this KFC for most of their lives. My parents brought home buckets of chicken from here as far back as I can remember and I’m really going to miss it."
The Hodges Management Company announced that it was closing the restaurant due to modernization requirements by the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation.
"They required us to tear it down and rebuild, relocate with a new building, or close it," Sanders said. "Financially, it makes the most sense in the current economy to close the restaurant and see how much of its sales go to the KFC on Buckhead Drive. There is a real possibility that we may see the need to build a second KFC in Statesboro again at some point in the future."
In 1964, Inman and Mary Sue Hodges built their first red and white striped, "California" style KFC restaurant next to the Paragon (the current location of Gnat's Landing) on South Main Street. At that time, there were over 600 Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises in the United States and Canada. In that same year, Sanders sold his concept to a group of investors, remaining as a spokesman for the company.
In 1970, the Hodges constructed a new KFC on North Main Street, and the original building on South Main Street was demolished. This Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant was the highest volume KFC in Georgia for several years in a row during the 1980's and 1990's.
With the closing of the North Main restaurant, many may wonder what will come of the restaurant's employees.
“Many of the familiar faces from the North Main KFC, like Bonnette Parker who has worked there for over 23 years, will now be at the restaurant on Buckhead Drive," Sanders said. "We are trying to save as many jobs as possible.”
Sanders said there are also positions available nearby in one of the company's restaurants in Metter. The Hodges Management Company owns and operates 23 KFC restaurants, some in conjunction with other concepts such as Long John Silvers and Taco Bell.
"I can’t begin to say how much we appreciate all of the loyal customers and friends that we’ve had over the years," Sanders said.