NEW YORK — KFC is tossing out the chicken bones and the quaint image of founder Col. Harland Sanders as it gets ready to test a slightly more upmarket restaurant.
The fried chicken chain says it’s opening a location called “KFC eleven” Aug. 5 near its headquarters in Louisville, Ky., that will serve flatbread sandwiches, rice bowls, salads and only boneless pieces of its Original Recipe chicken.
KFC eleven will serve updated side dishes such as waffle fries, garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw along with Original Recipe chicken. But the chicken will be the boneless variety the chain rolled out in April as an easier-to-eat alternative to its traditional breast, thigh and drumstick pieces.
The restaurant’s exterior won’t feature Sanders, whose bespectacled, white-bearded likeness has long been front-and-center at traditional KFC locations. But the name of the test restaurant is a reference to the 11 herbs and spices Sanders used in the Original Recipe.
KFC eleven’s opening is a reflection of the challenges facing traditional fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. The problem is that people in their 20s and 30s are increasingly heading to “fast-casual” chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread, where they feel they get better food for slightly higher prices. Young adults grew up on chicken nuggets and tenders, and generally tend to prefer chicken without bones even as adults. the chain said.
John Cywinski, president of KFC, said the company hopes to use the new test location to learn how it can draw in a broader customer base, particularly women.