Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bad postcard of the week: Mysteries of The Beef Room and the original KFC

The Susie-Q was in Royal Oak, just outside Detroit.
What, exactly, do you think happens in the “Beef Room?”

The epic Waffle House run wasn’t our only culinary adventure on our road trip to Florida.

But first, let’s get to this week’s bad postcard. Certainly Susie-Q Restaurant, right here in Michigan’s Royal Oak, is intriguing.  The back tells us Susie-Q is “A truly good place to eat.”

It also doesn’t appear to be crowded. There is plenty of aqua vinyl waiting there for weary travelers. Plenty of good parking spots out front, too.

But here’s where things get confusing.

The lollypop sign out front boasts of “Chick’n Chips by Susie-Q.” But the sign on the outside wall entices us with a “Beef Room.”

We don’t know much about the Beef Room.

Is that where they store the beef? 

Can you only get hamburgers in the Beef Room? 

What if some members of your party want to order the beef and some want the chick’n chips?

How is the Beef Room decorated? 

Well, we know there are vinyl aqua seats.
Where is the salad bar?

That’s just too much mystery for travelers. And that’s too many choices. At least those Waffle House guys knew how to specialize.

We were getting a little hungry as we rolled through the hills of southern Kentucky, and didn’t want to get into the whole chick’n v. beef debate. We took a vote -- two votes for chicken and one for waffles. I lost.

Luckily, we were able to use our meal stop to soak up some Kentucky culture and history.

Corbin is the home of the very first KFC. Col. Harlan Sanders started selling chicken at his gas station in 1934, expanded to a café across the street.

The kitchen where Col. Sanders made lots of chicken.
All was good – finger-licking good, as one might say – until plans called for the new I-75 to bypass Corbin. Sanders started marketing his chicken to restaurant owners across the country, then teamed up with some guys who knew about franchises, including the guy who founded all the Wendy’s chains.

The original café in Corbin – which is really just a couple miles off the interstate – is now part-modern KFC and part-museum. There are displays with some KFC memorabilia, some recreations of Sanders Café rooms and the kitchen where the colonel whipped up that original recipe using 11 herbs and spices.

Naturally, the Gnome of Victory and Celebration came along for some photos. This did not go over well with some of the Corbin natives.

The cashier looked at me rather strangely, as if no one else had ever ordered a meal with a glued-together gnome tucked under his arm.

Later, a slender, older man with a long, gray beard and trucker cap stood staring from several feet from our table. 

I don’t know if he was working up the courage to ask a question.

I don’t know if he was silently comparing beards and caps with the gnome. They might be long-lost cousins, but I didn't see any team insignia on the guy.

I do know that was my signal that we really needed to get back on the road. We didn’t want any trouble. We quickly finished our chicken nuggets and biscuits and got back on I-75 heading toward Tennessee.

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