ITHACA, N.Y. –– People have cravings. Sometimes we don’t care if it’s healthy or “cool” with the trendy crowd. For example, my mother loves Popeyes Chicken, after she ate it just once in New York City in 1998. When I went to grad school in Albany and I told her Albany had a Popeyes, she would ask for me to bring some home during holidays, which meant quadruple-bagging it and putting it in the trunk (I didn’t want my car smelling like fried chicken) for a 150-mile car ride.

The point of that little story is, we like what we like. Even with Ithaca’s wide array of wonderful restaurants, I do occasionally get emails asking about Popeyes or KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). KFC is the more common ask; after all, Ithaca used to have one on West Buffalo Street, and then it was on the corner of Green and Meadow Streets, though it closed several years ago. Well, some of you are going to be a little happier this weekend –– the city will be reviewing plans this month for a new KFC in the city of Ithaca.

Plans submitted by Marathon Engineering’s Adam Fishel on behalf of Kansas-based KBP Investments propose a redevelopment of a 0.74-acre parking lot at 405 Elmira Road on the southwest edge of the city, The existing driveways, walkways and some utilities would be torn out to make room for a new 2,220 square-foot standalone restaurant with a single-lane drive-thru and 23 parking spaces. The redevelopment package also comes with the usual complement of site grading, drainage, access drives, lighting and landscaping improvements.

The proposal complies with the uses of the property’s SW-2 zoning but will need a number of area variances for front yard setback, building frontage width, parking setbacks, building-mounted signage and freestanding signage. The frontage and setback issues are because the site is accessed via a shared driveway from Elmira Road that also serves Goodyear Auto Service, the former Tim Hortons building, and the small shopping plaza to the north, so it’s either new driveways for one or more buildings (and the city and state generally prefer as few curb breaks in Route 34/Elmira Road as possible) or push the proposed KFC building further back on the site.

Site Plan Review documents indicate the project’s construction cost will be about $800,000. The document states a September 2021 construction start, with an ending for “1-4-22”. It is very odd to see an SPR filing that precise on the day and that would be fairly fast for a new build in the cold half of the year, so it’s pretty likely that’s a typo for “4-1-22”, or in other words an April 2022 completion. As usual, the timeline is dependent on project review, which will likely take a few months. The Planning Board is expected to declare itself Lead Agency for environmental review at its April meeting later this month.

For KBP Investments, it would be just the latest in a sprawling portfolio. The company owns more than 700 franchised KFC and Taco Bell restaurants in 25 states, with over 15,000 employees at those eateries. Alongside Marathon Engineering as the civil engineering firm in charge is SRF Associates, which is doing the traffic study. The design by Kentucky-based Design+ Inc. is a variant of the brand’s “American Showman” corporate prototype.


Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at