Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Colonel Harland Sanders visited Berthoud’s Wayside Inn

By: Mark French | The Surveyor | June 16, 2022 | Then and Now

Photo courtesy of Mark Williams Collection, Berthoud Historical Society – Stan Williams, owner of Williams Wayside Inn, also manned the cash register at his fried chicken restaurant. Photo c. 1951.

For many years the Wayside Inn restaurant was located at the southwest corner of Mountain Avenue and 5th Street in Berthoud. The “Inn” earned a nationwide reputation for its fried chicken dinners and was featured in national publications including Ford Times magazine. At some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame paid a visit to the Williams Wayside Inn in Berthoud. While the purpose of Sanders’ visit was to sample fried chicken prepared by a restauranteur from Greeley seeking a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, he had an opportunity to sample the Inn’s chicken which according to its employees surpassed the Colonel’s in taste.

In 1952 Colonel Harland Sanders (“Colonel” was an honorific title) franchised his secret recipe for “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for the first time. The purchaser of the franchise was the operator of one on Salt Lake City’s largest restaurants. Unlike conventionally prepared chicken that was fried in a skillet, Sanders’ chicken with its blend a special spices was cooked in a pressure cooker. Following the success of the Utah franchise, Sanders drove his car across the country searching for restaurants where he could fry his chicken and negotiate franchise rights.

Sometime between 1952 when Sanders began franchising his secret recipe and 1964 when he sold the rights to Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sanders made a stop at the Williams Wayside Inn in Berthoud.

According to a 1996 interview with members of the Williams family, “One day a man called [telephoned] Stan [Williams] from Greeley. He had sold his restaurant but he was looking for a franchise with Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken. He asked if he could use Stan’s kitchen facilities at the Wayside Inn. Stan was very pleased to do this and anxious to see the difference between the way he cooked chicken and the way the Colonel cooked it. The Colonel himself was there and a man from Salt Lake City who bought a lots of the Colonel’s outlets. The Colonel was the nicest man one could meet. While they were cooking chicken in the kitchen by this method, he and Stan were walking about the Inn as the Colonel suggested things that he thought Stan could do to help the Inn’s business. One of his comments was, ‘You know, Stan, you have pretty good chicken but I can’t say it’s better than ours, but you can make gravy in one of those skillets. It’s pretty hard to make gravy in one of those cookers we use.’ The ladies in the kitchen were so excited. They fried a bunch of the Inn’s chicken and put it out in the kitchen area. Then they compared it to the Colonel’s. They all seemed to think the Inn’s chicken was better, and Stan still thinks it was. It was a very interesting experience to have that opportunity to visit with the Colonel, very enlightening.”

Whether or not the Greeley man was offered a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise is unknown. It is certain, however, that Stan Williams later wondered what might have happened if he had jumped on board with Colonel Sanders.

Stan Williams continued to operate the Williams Wayside Inn in Berthoud until 1978.

 

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