The History of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken


Lee hit the road with is Uncle Harland in 1952, selling their own special blend of spices along with their famous pressure cookers which later became part of KFC’s “Secret Recipe”. In three years, Lee and the Colonel opened over 800 KFC stores. In 1962, the Colonel sold KFC to John Y. Brown.

After the sale of KFC, Lee Cummings started developing his recipe later to be known as “Famous Recipe”. In 1966, Lee along with Harold Omer started “Harold’s Take-Home” in Lima, Ohio where Lee introduced his first Famous Recipe Chicken. The word was out about this great new recipe and later that year, the first franchise unit was sold to Jim Sanders and opened in Columbus, Ohio.

By 1967, the fifth franchise unit was opened by Lee and Bob Burick in Springfield, Ohio. Later that year, units followed in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio as well as Kalamazoo, Michigan and Famous Recipe was on its way!

In 1970, Lee’s Famous Recipe went international with the opening of three units in Trinidad and by 1972 there were more than 100 units in the thriving chain. By 1979, the number of units had doubled to 200 and in 1981 Lee sold the chain to Shoney’s Restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee. Shoney’s continued to operate Lee’s along with their own Captain D’s and Shoney’s Restaurants until 1995, when Lee’s was sold to RTM Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Georgia. The chain celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary as part of RTM and in 2003 Lee’s was sold to Famous Recipes, Inc. and headquartered in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

Leave a Comment