Yellowknife’s KFC will close down in August, to be replaced by Lenny Burger.
Matthew Jason, who runs the city’s franchise, told Moose FM there will be no more KFC in the city after August 23.
Jason and sister Sasha have become frustrated by their relationship, or lack thereof, with KFC headquarters. They consequently decided to close down the franchise and replace it with a new fast-food cafe in tribute to their father.
Lenny Jason’s burgers were renowned in Yellowknife – and sold through the KFC until two years ago, when headquarters asked the Jasons to take them off the menu.
The family has owned and operated Yellowknife’s KFC franchise for almost 50 years. It will close down on its 47th birthday, when the current agreement expires.
“The way negotiations went for a new franchise agreement, we didn’t feel it was good for us,” said Matthew Jason.
“We were one of the busier KFCs in Canada, pretty-much since we opened. I wasn’t really pleased with what they wanted from us and the way the future was going with them.
“For almost 50 years, my grandparents and my mom have had this place going. The treatment we got was a little disrespectful to my mom, I would say. I just think we’re better off moving on.”
On Facebook: Discuss Lenny’s on the YK Memories page
Jason says abandoning KFC and setting up an independent restaurant is a ‘huge’ risk, but he believes the city will be passionate about the new venture – which brings with it a certain nostalgia.
“We can definitely make it work. We don’t need KFC to make it work,” said Jason.
“You wait till you see the new place. It’s called the Lenny Burger – it’s a place my dad used to have, like way back. Most old-time Yellowknifers will recognize it pretty well. Everyone still complains they can’t get the hamburgers.
“My dad ended up selling them all at KFC instead – there was no point running two places. Two years ago, they made us stop, which I don’t understand one bit. They were like a $200,000 a year profit. It was crazy, I thought they were trying to make money.”
‘Gigantic outdoor patio’
Lenny’s will offer a “modern, healthier twist to fast food” according to Jason, with organic chicken sourced from Alberta and British Columbia.
The Jasons will spend the winter renovating the building, and hope to be serving Lenny’s signature burgers before Christmas.
“Since word started leaking out, I’ve had so many old-timer Yellowknifers so super-stoked about getting those burgers again. I was surprised – people were stopping me in the street,” said Jason. “And when I say renovating, I’m talking major. You won’t even recognize the place.
“We’re trying to do it in two phases: we’ll hopefully have all the menu done and the front pick-up area renovated, so people can still buy food, by December. Then we’re going to work on the dining area and bar through the spring.
“We’re going to hopefully turn one side into a gigantic outdoor patio, if we get the licensing and so on – hopefully with a stage for bands.”