The iconic Dinner House has been serving southern comfort food since 1968
By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos provided by the Andrew Kung Group
Tucked away off US-60 sits two white buildings with red roofs, Blackwood Hall and Claudia Sanders Dinner House. The latter has been a trademark in the Shelbyville community since husband and wife duo Colonel Harland Sanders and Claudia Sanders opened the restaurant in 1959. On June 15, the property, including Blackwood Hall, the trademark and likeness of the Claudia Sanders name and memorabilia from the Sanders family, was put up for sale by the current owners.
In 1959, after perfecting his world-famous chicken recipe, Colonel Sanders and Claudia purchased and moved into Blackwood Hall, which became their primary residence and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) home base. With the expansion of the business, the couple built a warehouse space, which later became Claudia Sanders Dinner House in 1968, according to the Claudia Sanders Offering Memorandum.
Since its establishment, the Claudia Sanders Dinner House has had a few different names before ultimately landing on what it’s called now and has been a staple in the Shelbyville community. The Dinner House is a reminder of Colonel Sanders’ legacy but also honors Claudia Sanders’s hard work supporting her husband and helping lead him to success. The two of them helped Kentucky become the “fried chicken capital of the world,” according to Jonathan Klunk, the Founding Partner and Agent of Six Degrees Real Estate, the firm handling the sale of the property. Morgan Hancock, a licensed Commercial Real Estate Agent with Six Degrees Real Estate, is also assisting Klunk on the sale of this historic estate.
Luckily, the lives of Colonel Sanders and Claudia Sanders have been well preserved through the years, and the new owners will have access to lots of memorabilia that gives us a glimpse into their lives. For example, one can find Colonel Sanders’ stove used to train franchisees, the original KFC bucket, a letter from President Nixon to Colonel Sanders wishing him happy birthday and so much more.
The Settles, the current owners, bought the Dinner House property from Claudia Sanders in 1974 and have lived in the Blackwood Hall since 1984. “They have two kids and their kids have gone on to other endeavors. Many family businesses are not handed down from generation to generation and eventually they have to find a new caretaker,” explained Klunk. “We want to honor the legacy of Claudia and find someone who likely will continue the operations as they are today because it’s a staple not only for Kentucky but certainly for the people of Shelbyville. They’ve come to really love it and don’t want to see anything happen to it, so we really want to find somebody who can keep the current location as is and maybe expand on the brand.”
The Claudia Sanders Dinner House will remain open during the sale, so make your way there to devour some southern comfort food like their famous fried chicken, Kentucky hot brown and classic side dishes. Bon Appetit!