Local Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchises Sold | Local News
With the support of the Dempsey family, the first Kentucky Fried Chicken store in Defiance opened in 1968.
At that time, the family matriarch, Suzanne Dempsey, and her sons, Russ, Patrick, Dennis, Mike and Daniel were all part of the Ownership Group, with the franchise license held by Wallace Vorrath of Monroe, Michigan. In 1969, the franchise license for this area was handed over to the Dempsey family, who opened KFC stores in Napoleon (1973), Bryan (1974) and Wauseon (1977).
In 1996, all four stores became wholly owned by Linda Dempsey, following the death of her husband, Russ, in 1995.
On June 28, the Defiance, Bryan and Wauseon stores were sold for an undisclosed amount to KBP Foods of Overland Park, Kan., Which has approximately 750 restaurants (KFC and Taco Bell stores) in 25 states. In addition to acquiring the local KFC stores (the locations in Bryan and Wauseon were a mix of KFC / A&W Root Beer), KBP Foods also has restaurants in Fort Wayne, Toledo, Findlay, and Lima.
Michelle Doebele, Director of Communications and Culture at KBP Foods, said, “KBP is delighted to expand its presence in Northwest Ohio with the acquisition of the three Yum products! Brand restaurants. It is our privilege to serve the local community, and we are committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers.
During this time, the Napoleon location will remain the property of Linda and will be managed by her son, Paul, who served as regional manager of the Bryan and Wauseon stores.
“We made the decision to sell about two years ago and we had a few suitors, but a deal with KBP wasn’t really done until about five or six months ago,” Linda said. “KBP can deliver what we can’t, it’s a business and we were just a small ‘mom and pop’ business. With everything that has become so business-oriented over the years, we felt it was time to sell.
“We informed our employees that we were selling about two weeks before the sale was final,” added Linda. “On the one hand, I’m really sad to sell, but on the other hand, I know it’s a good time. I am getting older, I am 76 years old.
Linda’s daughter Colleen Dempsey, who was area manager for Defiance and Napoleon stores, explained that it would be different not being at KFC after growing up and working in local stores as a teenager.
“It’s going to be tough at first, it’s a little sad, but we knew it was going to have to happen at some point,” said Colleen. “I started working at the store (at Defiance) from 9 to 2 Sunday, when I was 12 or 13, baking cookies and doing the dishes. It will be hard not to run the stores and have control, but at the same time it will be nice not to have to work 60 to 70 hours a week.
Paul said: “It’s a bit surreal, we’ve been doing this for so long… it seems a bit strange. I think it was a good time to sell, and Mom is happy with the sale. I’ve been working on it for about 40 years, and now I feel good doing it.
Regarding the Napoleon location, Paul explained that an appraisal process will take place to see what needs to be done there.
“We’re going to be looking carefully at what we need to do there to make sure we have the sales we need,” said Paul. “It will be a process, but we will be starting this process soon.”
Although the decision was made to seek a buyer in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the decision to sell the stores easier. The changes over the years in the way KFC franchises are run by its ownership group, Yum! The brands (a spin-off of PepsiCo in 1997) also played a role in the decision.
“COVID affected our business, we had to shut down our lobbies, and it hurt our bottom line a bit,” Linda said. “Finding employees to work was also a challenge, even before COVID, and during COVID, a lack of help shortened our hours. The supply chain through this has also seen disruption. When we started we were more of a farm-to-restaurant store, now everything that comes to us comes from the business. It has changed a lot over the years.
“When we started, we had no problem getting help,” Linda continued. “We had high school kids from Defiance, Ayersville, Fairview, Tinora and elsewhere working for us, even when they were playing sports or other activities. Now the sport lasts all year round, it is more difficult to make the children work and it is more difficult to keep people. But at the same time, we have had great employees over the years, many will be missed.
Linda pointed out that longtime employees Jody Wolfe, director at Bryan for 37 years, and Lisa Gilbert, director at Defiance for 41 years, were two of those many employees.
“These are just two of the people we’ve had a great relationship with for so many years,” said Linda, who handed the day-to-day operations of the business to Paul and Colleen in the 1990s. years, we have served so many families and made so many friendships and relationships. Everyone will be truly missed.
Colleen joked, “I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up,” but admitted she couldn’t wait to take time off.
“I’m stepping away from business, I’m going to take some time and then see what’s out there,” Colleen said. “At some point I will return to work.
Linda said: “It has been a great 53 years, but we feel great selling our stores to KBP. We believe they are a good fit and that our stores will be in good hands.
Paul said: “I wish the new owner the best of luck. KBP is a big company that has experience in this area, and I think they’re going to do a good job for these stores and communities. “