By Woodrow Polston
MEXICO—A large crowd gathered at 302 W. Jackson St. last week to celebrate the grand opening of a KFC franchise. At 9 a.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place inside, as a line of customers stretched out into the parking lot ahead of the official opening at 10 a.m. Owner of the new KFC location, Hector Gomez, said that the first 50 customers would have a special incentive to celebrate.
“We are giving away a free meal a week for a whole year to the first 50 customers,” said Gomez. Every location that I open I try to do something like this to help give back to the community. This is one way to help people who don’t necessarily have the means to dine out on a regular basis,” he added.
For the last 10 years or so, area residents had to travel as far as Columbia to enjoy a KFC meal. In the 1960s there was a KFC on E. Liberty Street that was later destroyed by a fire. Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce President Melanie Utterback told Gomez that there was a lot of excitement about the new KFC.
“Citizens of Mexico and the surrounding areas are super excited about the new KFC location,” said Utterback. “On behalf of the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce, we want to thank you for your commitment to the Mexico community,” she added.
KFC was founded by Col. Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Ky., during the Great Depression. Sanders identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept and the first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise opened in Utah in 1952. Sanders died in 1980, his promotional work making him a prominent figure in American cultural history. By the time of his death, there were an estimated 6,000 KFC outlets in 48 countries worldwide, with $2 billion worth of sales annually.
Gomez said that he is committed to the new investment.
“It is a big investment, but we believe in small communities,” said Gomez. We are going to employ approximately 65 full- and part-time employees. I went to law school, so I am a lawyer, but I’m also a chicken guy. Mike, my manager, is doing a fantastic job, but I will have to replace him when he goes to the Fulton location that we will be opening soon. We have been working on opening locations here and there and investing in various small communities. We are excited to be here and looking forward to opening more locations in the future,” he added.
The Mexico KFC will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.