It's no surprise that country music stars eventually expand their brand. Willie Nelson owns Old Whiskey River, Kenny Chesney runs Blue Chair Bay Rum, and Luke Bryan opened Luke's 32 Bridge Food + Drink. So back in 1991 when Country Music legend Kenny Rogers, and former KFC CEO John Y. Brown Jr. opened up a new chicken restaurant chain, no one batted an eye. Opened in Coral Springs, Florida, Kenny Rogers Roasters, started selling rotisserie chicken and sides. Within four years the chicken chain had expanded to include turkey and ribs in their 350 restaurants located in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
The chicken chain soon found itself in direct competition with Boston Chicken (now known as Boston Market) and Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1992 Clucker's sued the restaurant, claiming that Kenny Rogers Roasters stole its menus and recipes. The feud finally ended when Kenny Rogers Roasters bought a majority stake in the Cluckers company.
Kenny Rogers Roasters in Pop Culture
The chicken roaster turned into the bane of Kramer's existence during the 8th season of the popular sitcom, Seinfeld. The episode begins as the fast food restaurant opens up across from the apartment building, illuminating Kramer's apartment with a bright red chicken light. Kramer's sleeping schedule is completely disrupted, and to fight the restaurant, Kramer hangs a "Bad Chicken" sign outside of his window. Kramer and Jerry switch apartments and over the next few days, Jerry takes on Kramer's mannerisms and vice-versa.
Jerry finds out that Kramer is addicted to the chicken and switches back to his apartment. Shortly after, Jerry sabotages the restaurant with George's drenched Russian rat hat, shutting down the restaurant, and consequently, the red sign. Kramer is seen hanging out his window mouthing the word, "Kenny" and waving a "Kenny Come Back" banner.
Watch the episode and many others with the Seinfeld Complete Series Box Set:
What Happened To the Chicken Roaster?
I say this honestly and with complete sincerity. I really liked Kenny Rogers Roasters. Better than its competitors at the time, Koo Koo Roo and Boston Market. He also made a lot of music that a lot of people loved so God bless him. Rest In Peace.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) March 21, 2020
After filing for bankruptcy in 1998, the chain was acquired by hot dog giant, Nathan's Famous Inc. for $1.25 million. Ten years later Nathan's sold off the company to Asian franchisee, Roasters Asia Pacific (Cayman) Limited, a company which is owned by Berjaya Group of Malaysia
Today the chain is serving up rotisserie chicken and side dishes in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Dubai.
This article was originally published on March 24, 2020.