Apparently Manhattan can’t get enough fried chicken.
The new KFC, 901 N. Third St., has been so busy since it opened last week that the store was forced to close its dining room – and now offers only “drive-thru” service.
Rajeev Jain, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Dimple Jain, said it has been jammed every day from the time it opens at 10 a.m. until it closes at 2:30 a.m., often with lines out to the street.
He said he plans to keep the interior part of the restaurant closed until the end of the month.
“We thought it was better to do it that way,” Jain said.
Not only were employees having a hard time getting all the customers served efficiently, but because of the long drive-thru line, there were too many cars in the parking lot for people to get in and out easily.
There were reports of KFC running out of chicken, but Jain said that’s not an issue at this point. The restaurant gets deliveries several times a week, he said.
“We want to make sure everyone gets good food, home-cooked food,” Jain said. “We’re trying to go as fast as we can to take care of every customer.”
To do that, they’re focusing their attention on operations on the two-lane drive-thru – the only one of its kind at any KFC in the country.
“We want to kind of get our crew to be friendly and nice, and give everybody the hot food they deserve,” he said.
Jain acknowledges that having so many customers is a good problem. He’s not sure why people are going so crazy for the restaurant’s food.
One possible explanation is simply that they haven’t had access to a KFC for a while.
Manhattan’s previous KFC was closed for several years before the Jains bought it, tore it down and built the new one in the same location. That meant that for a long time, the nearest KFC was in Junction City.
“We’re happy,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate. People must love it.”
The Jains live in the Kansas City area and own and operate another restaurant, a combination KFC and Taco Bell, in Richmond, Mo.
They’re staying in Manhattan for a few months while they get the restaurant running, but eventually they hope to make Manhattan home.
They have three kids, and Jain said they hope their daughter will go to K-State.
“It’s a great town, he said. “We really like it. We’re trying to do good things here.”