KFC coupon for free chicken causes backlog

RALEIGH KFC locations in the Triangle, like the one on Poole Road in Raleigh, have had so many customers that many are turning away due to the wait.

One woman told Eyewitness News that she and her family went to the restaurant for dinner but opted not to get out of the car Wednesday night.

She said the restaurant and the parking lot was so crowded, presumably from people with the coupon for free grilled chicken.

The coupons were available on Oprah.com for 24 hours beginning Tuesday after Oprah announced the meal promotion on her show. Each downloadable coupon can be redeemed for two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit.

There were rumors of a riot after a New York City KFC in Manhattan allegedly ran out of its new grilled chicken. The rumor turned out to be untrue, but the restaurant's manager confirmed many customers have left the restaurant upset.

"Some customers were upset because they couldn't get their chicken, but there was no riot," said Laurie Schalow, KFC spokeswoman.

Schalow said the Manhattan restaurant on East 42nd Street plans to begin honoring the coupons again Thursday after it resupplies the kitchen.

KFC introduced its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken about three weeks ago. The new menu item is being touted as lower in fat, calories and sodium than the traditional deep-fried chicken for which KFC is known the world over. It even has its own secret recipe, kept under lock and key near the original 11 herbs and spices recipe for fried chicken created by KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders.

Schalow said the grilled chicken has been a huge success, and the combination of a bad economy and Oprah's popularity created a "perfect storm."

"We prepared for it," Schalow said, noting that a KFC restaurant can only serve so many people during the lunch and dinner hours. "We didn't prepare for this extreme."

Now, the Louisville-based chicken chain is asking customers to take a rain check for the new product.

KFC President Roger Eaton said Thursday the company will mail coupons to customers in stages so people can enjoy their meal in a more relaxed setting. It will throw in a free soft drink to sweeten the new deal.

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