Monday, 23 February 2009


It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this. Stafford's Greyfriars KFC closed its doors for the last time after a short illness in mid February. This magnificent edifice, a shining example of early post Colonesque architecture now stands forlornly at Stafford's Northern fringe. The Restaurant was one of the 38% of company owned venues and had been a stalwart of the the Staffordshire fast food scene since the 80s.

The restaurant had been bypassed by the recent refurbishment programme that has breathed new life into many branches and initial reports upon the closure suggested Greyfriars branch was being remodelled in line with the parent company's 2006 diktat. There was palpable excitement indeed at the prospect of a refurb. The sign on the door however for those that bothered to read it exclaimed otherwise 'This Branch is now closed'.

Stafford witnessed an outpouring of grief unprecedented in its 1000 year history, local flower shops were inundated with orders and many shut their doors early with nothing left to sell. Patricia Boynes, proprietor of one town centre flower vendor said
"Of course I was shocked like everybody else, I sold out in hours but saved a £150 bouquet and laid it myself, One guy came in here and spent over £1000, it's a tragedy for Stafford and a tragedy for the country as a whole."

The Greyfriars branch closure was also surprising due to its rumoured status as a regional hub. It's unusual two floor design held substantial office space which was presumably used by the firm. What will happen to the building remains to be seen, but local firm Tushingham Moore are handling the transition period. It was this unusual two story design which attracted Unesco, who are now considering making it a world heritage site as one of the finest examples of early post colonelesque architechture in the country its transmogrification into another business therefore could be slow.

The story of its demise was recounted to me by a worker moved from the Greyfriars branch to Stafford's young pretender the Hough Retail Park Branch(HRPB). Apparently the lack of a drive through facility at Greyfriars was the death knell and was enough the spur customers on a further 1.7 miles so as not to have to leave their car. There is a worry that the move may be premature. With the HRPB only trading since November, has it been long enough to accurately formulate a business model based on the seasons critics of the closure are asking. The Greyfriars branch came into it's element during the summer months when families would flock to its patio seating area to watch enthralled as the traffic roared past them on the busy A34, a fond memory that many Staffordians will hold dearly on to.

Other fond memories are of the winter wonderland that the staff went out of their way to prepare at the the Greyfriars branch. Each year a fake Christmas tree was festooned with all manner of product wrappers lovingly fashioned into Colonel themed decorations. From freshen up wipes to Popcorn Chicken boxes, nothing was left out in the pursuit of a perfect Chickeny Christmas and the neighbourhood children loved it as one elderly local resident recalls.
"If you lived round here you always just knew when KFC had decorated their tree, there was a feeling in the air, people suddenly seemed happier it lifted everyones mood and to see the children so happy, It was as if the Colonel himself had been here"
Another wonderful feature (for me at least) of this branch which was my local was the lack of disabled parking. I was able to park right by the door thus speeding up my overall journey time from home to branch. Stafford was also noted for the extremely high quality of its gravy, some of the best 3 step I have ever encountered was served to me at this branch. This would have been a prime candidate for a gravy centre of excellence. The Colonel himself was very particular with regard to the gravy,noting in his book:
"with me gravy is a mighty important thing. Most of it I see in restaurants today ain't fit for my dogs"

As Chaucher pointed out to us though
"all good things must come to an end"
but i didn't think the same proverb applied to great things too.

Rest In Poultry
1980s - 2009

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