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"The History of Claudia Sanders Dinner House: A Southern Tradition"

Claudia Sanders Dinner House is a storied establishment in Shelbyville, Kentucky that carries the legacy of Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC. Opened in 1968 by the Colonel and his wife, Claudia, after a fallout with KFC over recipe changes, the Dinner House offers an authentic experience of Southern hospitality and cuisine. This article explores the rich history, the traditional Southern fare, and the unique charm that make Claudia Sanders Dinner House a beloved destination.

Key Takeaways

  • Claudia Sanders Dinner House was founded by Colonel Sanders and his wife in 1968 as a response to dissatisfaction with KFC's direction.

  • The restaurant is renowned for preserving the original recipes and traditions of Southern cooking, offering a true taste of Kentucky.

  • Not only a place for dining, it serves as a versatile venue for events, with sophisticated decor and professional catering services.

  • Visitors can enjoy the experience of dining in, ordering online, and exploring the on-site gift shop for memorabilia.

  • The Dinner House is more than a restaurant; it's a historical landmark that continues to engage with the community and provide employment opportunities.

The Legacy of Colonel Sanders

The story of the founder of KFC—Colonel Sanders—is one of determination and culinary innovation. Here, Sanders began serving different meals, such as chicken, country ham, and steak, to the weary travelers who came to his service station. His dedication to quality and flavor led to the creation of a dining experience that would become a cornerstone of American fast food.

After Colonel Sanders sold Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964, he and his wife Claudia embarked on a new venture. Unhappy with the changes to his original recipes, they opened Claudia Sanders Dinner House in 1968, offering the Colonel's original-recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken as part of a full-service dinner menu. This move sparked a legal battle with KFC's new owners, leading to a settlement and the establishment of a restaurant that would preserve the Colonel's culinary legacy.

The commitment to preserving original recipes is evident in the continued popularity of Claudia Sanders Dinner House. The restaurant serves as a testament to the Sanders' dedication to their craft, ensuring that the original flavors and cooking methods remain a part of Kentucky's rich culinary tradition.

  • 1964: Colonel Sanders sells Kentucky Fried Chicken.

  • 1968: Claudia Sanders Dinner House is founded.

  • 1971: Legal dispute with KFC's new owners.

  • Settlement: Claudia Sanders Dinner House continues to serve original recipes.

Southern Hospitality and Cuisine

A Taste of Kentucky's Finest

Experience the warmth of true Southern Hospitality as soon as you step into the Claudia Sanders Dinner House. Our menu boasts an array of classic southern dishes, ensuring that you receive the very best in country-style cooking.

Signature Southern Dishes

From our artisanal breads to our freshly made soups and salads, each dish is prepared with meticulous care and attention to detail. Our menu features favorites like fried chicken, pork chops, and the Kentucky Hot Brown, all crafted from traditional recipes.

Made-from-Scratch Meals

Our unwavering commitment to excellence is evident in every aspect of our menu. We prioritize the use of the freshest and highest quality ingredients, meticulously crafted into homemade favorites every single day.

Our popular dishes include:

  • Fried Chicken

  • Pork Chops

  • New York Strip Steak

  • Sugar Cured Ham

  • Fried Chicken Livers

  • Kentucky Hot Brown

  • Classic Side Dishes

Homemade pies and cakes round off the dining experience, offering a sweet taste of Southern comfort.

A Venue for Every Occasion

Event Hosting and Catering Services

Claudia Sanders Dinner House is renowned for its exceptional event hosting and catering services. Whether you're celebrating a wedding, a birthday, or a corporate milestone, our team is dedicated to making your event a resounding success. We cater to a variety of occasions across Kentucky, including Louisville, Shelbyville, and Southern Indiana. Our commitment to quality and professionalism is unwavering, ensuring that your special day is nothing short of perfect.

  • Weddings

  • Birthday Parties

  • Corporate Luncheons

  • Cocktail Parties

  • Baby Showers

To inquire about our catering services or to book your event, please reach out to our event planning staff.

Sophisticated Decor and Ambiance

The ambiance at Claudia Sanders Dinner House is a blend of elegance and comfort, providing the ideal backdrop for any gathering. Our venue features beautifully designed booths and open views, creating an inviting atmosphere that complements any occasion. From the accommodating bar to the space for live entertainment, every detail is meticulously arranged to enhance your event experience.

Planning Your Special Event

Planning your special event at Claudia Sanders Dinner House is a seamless process. Our experienced staff will guide you through every step, ensuring that all aspects of your event are tailored to your preferences. From the initial consultation to the final toast, we are here to support you in creating an unforgettable experience for you and your guests.

Visiting Claudia Sanders Dinner House

Location and Directions

Claudia Sanders Dinner House is nestled in the heart of Shelbyville, Kentucky, offering a unique dining experience steeped in Southern tradition. Easily accessible from major roads, the restaurant is a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

  • Address: 3202 Shelbyville Rd, Shelbyville, KY 40065

  • Directions: Available on various navigation apps and websites

Hours of Operation

The restaurant welcomes guests with its warm and inviting atmosphere throughout the week, with varied hours to accommodate diners' schedules. Plan your visit accordingly to ensure a delightful meal at this historic venue.

Health and Safety Policies

In response to ongoing health concerns, Claudia Sanders Dinner House has implemented comprehensive health and safety policies to protect both patrons and staff. Guests can dine with peace of mind, knowing that the highest standards of cleanliness and care are being upheld.

  • Masks may be required based on current health advisories

  • Enhanced cleaning protocols in place

  • Hand sanitizing stations available

The Menu: A Blend of Tradition and Quality

Dine-In and Carry Out Options

At Claudia Sanders Dinner House, we offer a variety of dining experiences to suit your needs. Whether you're looking for a cozy meal inside our welcoming establishment or a quick carry-out to enjoy at home, our menu caters to both options with ease. Our guests can expect the same level of quality and taste, regardless of how they choose to enjoy our Southern cuisine.

  • Dine-In: Immerse yourself in the ambiance of our restaurant.

  • Carry Out: Conveniently take home your favorite dishes.

Fresh Ingredients and Cooking to Order

We take pride in our commitment to freshness and quality. Each dish on our menu is made with the freshest ingredients and cooked to order, ensuring that every bite is as delicious as it is memorable. Our selection of entrees, from the classic fried chicken to the savory New York strip steak, is a testament to our dedication to culinary excellence.

  • Artisanal Breads

  • Freshly Made Soups

  • Homemade Salads

Online Ordering Convenience

In today's fast-paced world, convenience is key. That's why Claudia Sanders Dinner House offers an online ordering system that makes enjoying our Southern specialties as easy as a few clicks. Whether you're planning a quiet dinner at home or a large gathering, our online menu is designed to provide a seamless experience from browsing to checkout.

  • Browse Menu

  • Place Order

  • Pick Up & Enjoy

More Than Just a Restaurant

Claudia Sanders Dinner House is a testament to the enduring legacy of Claudia Sanders, a beacon of Southern hospitality and culinary excellence. Beyond its reputation for delicious meals, the establishment stands as a pillar of the community, offering more than just a dining experience.

Gift Shop and Memorabilia

Visitors to Claudia Sanders Dinner House can take a piece of history home with them. The gift shop is filled with memorabilia that celebrates the rich heritage of the Sanders family and their impact on American cuisine. From branded merchandise to unique collectibles, the shop offers a range of items that make for perfect souvenirs or gifts.

Employment Opportunities

The Dinner House is not only a place to eat but also a place to build a career. With a focus on nurturing talent and fostering a supportive work environment, it provides various employment opportunities for those passionate about the food industry and customer service.

  • Full-time and part-time positions

  • Competitive benefits

  • Opportunities for growth and advancement

Community Engagement

Claudia Sanders Dinner House prides itself on being an active member of the Shelbyville community. Through various initiatives and partnerships, the restaurant strives to give back and support local causes, reflecting its commitment to more than just profit margins.

  • Hosting charity events

  • Sponsoring local sports teams

  • Participating in community service

The Story Behind the Building

The Claudia Sanders Dinner House is steeped in history, nestled next to the residence where the Sanders family lived from 1959 to 1984, which also served as the original headquarters for Kentucky Fried Chicken. This iconic establishment is more than just a restaurant; it's a piece of Americana that continues to serve over 100,000 customers annually.

Architectural Significance

With its country-style two-story design, the Claudia Sanders Dinner House offers a unique dining experience. The interior features designed booths and open views, creating a stunning backdrop for any event. The building's architecture is not only aesthetically pleasing but also reflects the traditional Southern charm that the restaurant is known for.

Historical Landmark Status

The significance of the Claudia Sanders Dinner House extends beyond its walls. In 1999, a devastating fire consumed the restaurant, but it was later rebuilt, preserving its historical essence. The restaurant's resilience is a testament to its importance in the community and its status as a historical landmark.

Restoration and Preservation Efforts

The commitment to maintaining the legacy of the Claudia Sanders Dinner House is evident in the continuous restoration and preservation efforts. The building, once listed for sale with an initial asking price of $9 million, saw its price reduced to $4.9 million, reflecting the dedication to finding a steward who values its heritage.


In summary, the Claudia Sanders Dinner House is not just a restaurant; it's a testament to the legacy of Colonel Sanders and his dedication to authentic Southern cuisine. From its inception in 1968 as a response to the commercialization of KFC's recipes, it has stood as a beacon of traditional cooking and Southern hospitality. The Dinner House remains a beloved destination in Shelbyville, Kentucky, offering guests a taste of history with its original recipes and warm, inviting atmosphere. Whether you're there for a casual meal, a special event, or simply to savor the flavors that the Colonel held dear, Claudia Sanders Dinner House promises an experience that is both deliciously satisfying and steeped in Americana.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind Claudia Sanders Dinner House?

Claudia Sanders Dinner House was opened in 1968 by Colonel Sanders and his wife Claudia after the Colonel became dissatisfied with changes to his recipes at KFC. The restaurant has since become a local landmark in Shelbyville, Kentucky, known for preserving the original recipes and Southern hospitality.

What kind of cuisine can I expect at Claudia Sanders Dinner House?

The restaurant offers classic Southern dishes such as crispy fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread, all freshly prepared and cooked to order, reflecting the traditions of country-style cooking.

Does Claudia Sanders Dinner House offer catering and event services?

Yes, they provide catering services and can host various events with sophisticated decor and professional planning, ensuring an unforgettable experience for any special occasion.

Where is Claudia Sanders Dinner House located and how can I get there?

The restaurant is located at 3202 Shelbyville Rd, Shelbyville, KY. It's accessible via I-64 exits 32 or 32B, north to US Hwy 60, then west one mile on the left side.

What are the hours of operation for Claudia Sanders Dinner House?

The restaurant is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 am to 8 pm, and Friday to Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm. It is advisable to call ahead to verify hours as local health policies may affect access.

Can I order from Claudia Sanders Dinner House online?

Yes, the restaurant offers online ordering for both dine-in and carry-out options, providing convenience for customers who wish to enjoy their meals at home.

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