The Logan County Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to recognize KFC-Kentucky Fried Chicken as September’s Business/Entrepreneur of the Month.
The restaurant is currently owned by Darren and Johni Whitaker, however, it has been in their family since 1977. Darren’s uncle became a KFC Franchisee in 1971 and in 1977 he convinced Darren’s parents, Tom and Janice Whitaker, to move from their hometown of Jeffersonville, Indiana, to “Belly fon taine” to get in the chicken business. A gentleman had 2 KFC stores for sale, one in Kenton and one at 817 South Main Street in Bellefontaine. The Kenton store sold quickly to another franchisee so his parents purchased the Bellefontaine store. Janice Whitaker is originally from the little town of Henryville, Indiana; the same town KFC founder Col. Sanders was born…can you say destiny?
Darren was 12 when his parents relocated to Bellefontaine. With the exception of five years out of state and abroad in the US Army, he has called Logan County home. He worked through high school for his parents and met his wife in 1983 when she was hired to work at the restaurant. They married in 1986 and spent the next five years traveling while Darren was in the Army. They returned to Bellefontaine to help run the family business with two children in tow.
Darren and Johni’s two children, Kyle and Meagan, came to work for the business. Just like their parents, Kyle and Meagan met their significant others at KFC. Meagan married Zach Woodruff last year and this coming spring Kyle will marry Skyler Cronkleton. All four have worked at the restaurant both part time and as supervisors. Three generations of Whitakers have served customers in Bellefontaine for over 36 years.
They are proud to serve original recipe chicken, extra crispy, and Kentucky grilled chicken as well as several off the bone products to their customers every day. Also it should be noted that KFC has zero grams of trans fat in any of their products. They also have a buffet daily in the restaurant, which was added in 1992. Catering is also an option for their customers. They have bulk or individual meals for any size group.
Because Tom and Janice were hard working and very strict when it came to their standards, they won many awards from KFC for quality, service, and cleanliness and years later Darren and Johni strive to maintain the high standards they always held. They have earned Promise Pride certification as well as White Glove awards and have had the number one ranked KFC in the United States for QSC. Darren also introduced BBQ Crispy Strips to the entire system in a recipe contest about 11 years ago and more recently helped to get the cheesy bacon bowl promoted nationally.
Darren and Johni continue to support local business by contributing to safety programs in the local schools and fundraiser programs. They support the Logan County Fair as well having the Grand Champion Chicken trophy for over 30 years and usually attend the livestock auction purchasing many animals over the years as well. They make their living in the community and feel it is important to be visible and certainly to give back.