Saturday, May 13, 2017

THE BIG CHICKEN - a Marietta landmark













Freys’ chicken: Meet owners of Marietta’s most famous landmark


Some families pass down jewelry from generation to generation. Others hand down furniture or fine china.
But what if your beloved family heirloom is an iconic 56-foot-tall chicken?
That’s life for Ralph Frey and June Littlepage, who respectively own two-thirds and one-third of Marietta’s famous landmark and navigational aid, the Big Chicken.
Ralph Frey’s parents, John Steve Frey Sr. and Lena Bentley Frey purchased the land in around 1946. When they died, the property went to Ralph Frey and his two now-deceased siblings.
Littlepage is Ralph Frey’s niece and inherited her stake from her mother, Frey’s sister.
Ralph Frey, his wife Nan Frey and Littlepage met with the MDJ in the KFC outside the Big Chicken before its grand re-opening set for May 11.
The family takes great pride in the Big Chicken and in their family history. Littlepage and Nan Frey came to the meeting with two gigantic scrapbooks full of family photos and newspaper clippings about the famous bird.
One was an old comic strip from the MDJ featuring two swimsuit-clad cartoon beauties. One standing in front of a beach was labeled “California Girls.” The other, standing in front of the Big Chicken, was labeled “Marietta Girls.”
“This was my girlfriend back in my younger days,” Ralph Frey said, pointing at the Marietta girl.
Nan Frey let out a good-natured scoff.
“I have never been a blonde,” she said, smiling.When the Big Chicken was built, its accompanying restaurant was not KFC, but a place called Johnny Reb’s Chick Chuck and Shake.
Littlepage said the first restaurant to occupy the space was a Zesto ice cream shop in the 1950s. Back then, the area was far less developed than it is now.
“It was such a change,” Littlepage said. “The original building was $5,000 on the original site of the Big Chicken. Isn’t it amazing? Cobb County has just grown so much.”
When John Steve Frey Sr. bought the Big Chicken property around 1946, there was only a small house on it that was worth about $300 at the time.
The senior Frey left a large legacy in Cobb County. In addition to the Big Chicken property, he also owned the land that would become Kennesaw State University and the home of Kennesaw’s famous locomotive, “The General.”
Sara “Billie” Skelton Bozeman Frey was John Steve Frey Sr.’s second wife, whom he married after his first wife died. Sara Frey, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, receives a quarter of the profits made by the Big Chicken.
As the family spoke about the bird’s history, Ralph Frey pulled out his phone and brought up a clip of the game show Jeopardy! that featured a question about the Big Chicken.
A photo of the massive clucker was shown with the words Kentucky Fried Chicken covered up. The contestants were asked which fast food franchise the bird belonged to.
A contestant immediately buzzed in and answered correctly, earning $800 for her knowledge.
“She got it just like that,” Ralph Frey said with a grin. “I thought that was pretty good.”
If the Big Chicken is featured on any game shows in the future, it will have a new facade, and the KFC below it is being spruced up as well.
As the Freys talked to the MDJ, workers were busy adding new decorations to the restaurant’s interior.
Littlepage said KFC approached the family about the remodel when it came time to renew the lease on the facilities, and they were happy to sign off on the changes.
“It was in need of a remodel,” Littlepage said. “It was just time. 1993 to 2017, that’s a while since the last real big remodel.”
Ralph Frey said KFC is giving many of its restaurants a new look as part of a branding plan, but the Big Chicken will remain unique. The family has gotten to see the plans for the new look, and Littlepage said they like what they have seen.
“We love the whole thing, it’s just so gorgeous,” she said. “We’re excited.”


======================================

Cobb County's 'Big Chicken' set to reopen this week
May 7, 2017 - 5:31 PM

MARIETTA, Ga. - It has been closed down for the past 12 weeks, but “The Big Chicken” in Marietta is set to reopen Thursday.  The Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that sits along Cobb Parkway has been under renovation.  The restaurant is getting some updates, including a new patio and separate screened-in porch, both of which will total about 55 extra seats.

The Big Chicken sign has also been touched up. The 56-foot-tall chicken was erected in 1963. In 1974, KFC took over and considered tearing down the bird structure after high winds damaged it in 1993. But the people squawked and convinced the the fast-food chain to repair instead of it tear down.

The project is part of an overhaul of all KFC locations the company owns in metro Atlanta, and it has done about 50 so far, said Mike Kulp, CEO of KBP Investments, which owns The Big Chicken and 60 other Kentucky Fried Chicken locations in metro Atlanta.  Kulp said the space hasn’t spread its wings in 20 years and was “an image we felt was a little tired.”



 4 Days left to the Grand Re-Opening!







----------------------------------------------

4/30/17 -

A few changes from last Sunday, things are moving along and the tables/chairs are now in place.






4/23/17
BIG CHICKEN GRAND OPENING - Marietta, Ga

After a $2,200,000 renovation the Big Chicken will re-open for business at 11am on Thursday, May 11. 

The re-opening will be preceded by a ribbon cutting at 10am.

===================================

Lots of electrical work going on this rainy Sunday:









4/8/17

Turnover to KFC is expected April 28th with a Grand Opening May 12th.














Below:  Always good to have some blueprints for your 'Toilet Room'







4/2/17 Photos


Marietta’s unique Big Chicken getting ready to reopen














  •    MDJ 4/2/17

    The Big Chicken is on schedule to rise like a phoenix in late April or early May.
    The iconic bird closed its doors in January in preparation for a 12-week, $2.2 million makeover.
    Michelle Doebele, spokeswoman for KBP Investments, which owns and operates the Big Chicken along with over 300 other KFC franchises nationwide, said there are big plans for the Big Chicken.
    Passersby will notice one change from the street. The newly re-hatched Big Chicken will feature an outline of Col. Sanders’ face in addition to the words “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
    But Doebele said KBP wanted to be sure not to make too many big changes to the exterior of the Marietta landmark.
    “Knowing how important the Big Chicken is to the local community, we didn’t want to change much,” she said. “The beak will still open and close and the eyes will still roll around … It’ll be recognizable and largely the same as it was before.”
    In addition to the new coat of paint, there will be new landscaping and new antique-looking paneling outside the restaurant, but most of the changes will be happening within.
    A flagship location
    “It is going to be one of the greatest KFC locations certainly in the country, and even in the world,” she said.
    The newly-renovated KFC will feature a glass wall that will allow diners to look into the kitchen to watch the chefs prepare the colonel’s classic fried chicken. Doebele said it will be the only KFC with that feature.
    She said it will also feature unique desserts not available in other locations and “the most comprehensive drink menu at any KFC.”
    The drinks available to customers will include Pepsi’s Stubborn Soda line of craft sodas.
    Doebele said the decor of the interior will be inspired by KFC’s new “American showman” aesthetic, which features bold red and white colors, but the decorations in the Big Chicken will be customized for the location and celebrate local history.
    “We’ve got a whole new look and feel and it’s going to be a really unique location,” she said.
    The remodeled restaurant will feature more seating, including on three porches, one in front, one in the back and one on the side. Doebele said the additions will double the size of the dining room.
    So far, workers have painted the chicken’s exterior and are in the process of laying flooring, putting up walls and doing electrical work.
    “Nothing too exciting yet,” Doebele said. “It’s still looking pretty bare in there, but we’re still doing the foundation.”
    The next steps will be equipment installation and signage, including on the Big Chicken itself.
    She said KFC is launching a major renovation project on restaurants nationwide, and KBP is renovating about 250 of its 364 locations.
    She said the $2.2 million price tag on the Big Chicken’s makeover is significantly higher than the typical KFC remodel, but she called the bird one of the company’s “hero assets,” a location that is one-of-a-kind and special to the community in which it resides.
    The Big Chicken was built in 1963 as an advertisement for a restaurant called “Johnny Reb’s Chick-Chuck-‘N’-Shake.” The restaurant was later converted to a KFC, according to Marietta’s city website.
    When the Big Chicken was in danger of being torn down in the 1990s, the public outcry was so great that KFC agreed to rebuild the entire structure, cementing its place as a local landmark.



    Here are some photos taken 4/2/17

















    ------------------------------------------------

    MARIETTA - Big Chicken gets a face-lift


    The Big Chicken, a landmark in Marietta that extends from a KFC restaurant, overlooks the intersection of Roswell Road and Cobb Parkway.

    Pat Bradley of Thrower Electric works to pop out a stubborn piece of wood from a drill bit used for piping at the Big Chicken renovation project.

    Davey Vining (right) of Venture Construction jokes with Marlon Ramirez outside the Big Chicken at the corner of Roswell Road and Cobb Parkway in Marietta. Vining is a native to the area surrounding the Big Chicken, and grew up with it being a neighborhood landmark where he ate and from which his father gave him directions. He is working on a renovation of the structure
    HENRY TAYLOR PHOTOS / HENRY.TAYLOR@AJC.COM

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    3/25/17

    3/18/17


    3/12/17
    April Opening?

    Maybe very late April, but things don't seem to be moving all that quickly.  Here are photos from 3/12/17.  Perhaps May is more likely for an opening.











    3/8/17  Work continues:






    March 2, 2017




    Construction Continues:  Feb 23, 2017




    Sat Feb 11, 2017

    NEW PHOTOS OF CONSTRUCTION:










    ==================================================

    PLUCKED: Big Chicken to hatch again in April
    Staff reports MDJ 1/30/17
         The Big Chicken on Cobb Parkway appears to have been plucked as the $2 million renovation began on the Marietta landmark, and will be closed for an estimated 12 weeks.

         Inside the remaining shell of the dining room of the Big Chicken, construction workers tear out concrete and prepare for the $2 million renovation.

         The marquee of the Big Chicken states the famous Marietta landmark will hatch again in April as workers started this week on a $2 million renovation.

         Kentucky Fried Chicken wasted little time in beginning its renovations of the Big Chicken.

         After closing on Monday, construction crews gutted most of the restaurant’s interior as part of the $2 million renovation of the Marietta landmark.

         The 4,731-square-foot restaurant is expected to reopen in April after the makeover, which will include the addition of a screened-in patio and outdoor seating area, a chandelier featuring KFC’s signature chicken bucket, a retail area where guests can buy Big Chicken souvenirs and glass wall to give customers a view into the kitchen.

         New signage, art and aesthetics are also expected for the restaurant, and the Big Chicken itself will get a new coat of paint and some maintenance work.

         The renovation is part of KFC’s efforts to remodel about 70 percent of its U.S. restaurants over the next three years.

         The Big Chicken was originally built in the 1960s above Johnny Reb’s Chick, Chuck and Shake. After KFC purchased the location, a windstorm in the 1990s destroyed most of the landmark, but KFC rebuilt and restored it.

    The 56-foot-tall steel bird is one of Marietta’s most well-known landmarks, often used to give directions around town.
    Located at:  12 Cobb Pkwy N., Marietta, GA 30006
       






    PHOTOS OF THE BIG CHICKEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION






























    =========================================

    History of The Big Chicken

    Marietta, Georgia

    The Big Chicken in Marietta
    “The Big Chicken” is a well known Marietta landmark that rises above a KFC restaurant at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Roswell Road. It is a large steel-sided structure with a moving beak and eyes.
    History:
    The Big Chicken was built in 1963 for a restaurant called Johnny Reb’s Chick-Chuck-‘N’-Shake(see below). The owner, Stanley R. “Tubby” Davis, created the seven story tall structure as a way to advertise his restaurant. Soon the towering landmark was used as a reference point and phrases like “turn left at the big chicken” or “just one mile south of the big chicken” became common. A few years after construction of the big chicken, Davis sold Johnny Reb’s to his brother who turned it into a franchise of KFC.
    In 1993, after years of deterioration and recent storm damage, the famous landmark was in danger of being torn down. When news of this plan reached the public, the outcry was so great that KFC agreed to rebuild the entire structure and restore it to its former glory.
    The Big Chicken is located at the intersection of Cobb Parkway (U.S. Highway Route 41) and Roswell Road (Georgia State Route 120 Loop). There is a small gift shop inside if you would like to purchase souvenirs, or stop by the Marietta Museum of History for some Big Chicken merchandise.
    Kentucky Fried Chicken – The Big Chicken
    12 Cobb Parkway
    Marietta GA 30062
    770-422-4716










    Big Chicken Ad
    Big Chicken Ad from the early 1960's. "Picnic Fried Chicken - Ready to Go!"
    Johnny Rebs Restaurant
    There was also a Johnny Reb's in Atlanta. "Johnny Reb's - Featuring Confederate Fried Chicken ...served with an authentic Civil War atmosphere with true Southern Hospitality - Yankees Welcome."

    ===========================================

    Previous work, See also:

    http://www.marietta.com/attractions/the-big-chicken




    =======================================


































    Marietta's 'Big Chicken' getting a $2 million makeover

    MARIETTA, Ga. -- A local landmark is getting ready for a renovation.
    Marietta's "Big Chicken" located on Cobb Parkway will be closing its doors soon for a 12-week, $2 million project slated to begin on Jan. 23, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
    The iconic Big Chicken sign will remain, according the KFC Corp, but the restaurant will be updated to get the latest KFC design and a gift shop. 
    According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the restaurant was built in 1963 as part of Johnny Reb's Chick, Chuck and Shake. Then, Kentucky Fried Chicken took over in 1974. It was almost torn down a few times, but was saved. 
    "Marietta’s Big Chicken is a local landmark that we are proud to preserve,” KFC franchisee Mike Kulp, president and CEO of KBP Foods, said in an announcement. “Once completed, our new restaurant will be among the greatest KFCs in the world with design and guest experience features you won’t be able to find anywhere else in the U.S."

    (© 2017 WXIA)
    Located at:  12 Cobb Pkwy N., Marietta, GA 30006