The Colonel's Still Got It
In our ongoing series 'Dining After 6:00 pm', we stop in at Kentucky Fried Chicken's Springs Plaza location to see what makes the fast- food chain still a popular choice for eating out.
It's no earth-shattering secret that The Rock's denizens love fried chicken. In fact, our intense love affair is immediately visible with a weekend visit to pretty much any of the Rock's Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets. Crowded drive-thrus are to be expected and even longer indoor queues. Our ritualistic Friday after-6:00 pm outing found us heading to the Springs Plaza KFC restaurant on Constant Spring Road. To no amazement, the scene at the fast-food eatery does not defy the love relationship: Meal Deal-loving, corn-on-the-cob-craving, hot-wings-fixated throngs.
The multitude of chicken-obsessed Jamaicans (our present dining company at the Springs included) has been a boon for Restaurants of Jamaica, local franchise operators of KFC. Since establishing the first KFC branch on Old Hope Road (opposite Jamaica College) in 1975, the fast-food business franchise has mushroomed, and today sees some 32 KFC branches operational in 12 parishes, save for Trelawny and St Thomas.
Back at the Springs Plaza outlet, the recently renovated eatery is populated with couples, families, friends and singletons, all out to enjoy Friday night fast food fixes. As people stand in line — some awaiting orders, others to place them that unmistakable scent of Colonel Saunders' legendary chicken liberally wafts in the air.
The Meal Deal and Big Deal combos (two or three pieces of chicken served with fries and soda) are time-tested best-sellers, and we observe, are ordered by every other customer. Other menu items are not given the short shrift by customers as Hot Wings, Famous Bowl (mashed potato with popcorn chicken and cheeses), Zinger Sandwich and the Lent-appropriate Fish Zinger sandwich and Fish Twister are also bought during our two-hour visit.
Ryan Silvera, Restaurants of Jamaica marketing coordinator, tells Thursday Food that the company's new slogan, 'So Good' is most apt for the company's customer-centric business. "Walking into a KFC now is more than just getting your food; the restaurants are being beautifully revamped, the staff members are very friendly; it's more than a meal you get here, it's an experience. We want our customers to enjoy being in the store."
Thirty-seven years strong in Jamaica, KFC's beloved food status shows no sign of waning anytime soon. In Silvera's estimation, the sustained love affair Jamaicans continue to have with the iconic Colonel's finger-licking meals is now near tradition.
"We've been here for years and people have grown up with us," Silvera says, counting himself as one who was weaned on KFC as a child. "From a young kid, I was coming to KFC and it was always a big deal (no pun intended) to me," he adds. So what's it like going from being a faithful customer to a company employee Thursday Food asks. "It's beautiful," he answers sharply. "You love something and you're here trying to make everyone else love it; it's a great experience working alongside great team members."