Encinitas Kentucky Fried Chicken flies the coop

“I got to work and they were just gone.”

It might become a Starbucks. “But isn’t there already a Starbucks in Vons?”
  • It might become a Starbucks. “But isn’t there already a Starbucks in Vons?”

The Kentucky Fried Chicken at 266 North El Camino Real closed abruptly last week. The signage and familiar KFC logos were removed overnight.

“I got to work and they were just gone,” said an employee of Chipotle, next door.

KFC put one flyer in the window and on a barricade blocking the drive-thru. It thanked customers for the years of support and encouraged lovers of KFC to go to the other nearby locations.

A post on an “old school” Encinitas Facebook page by local realtor Lydell Fleming, was the first to state the location is slated to become a drive-thru Starbucks. Fleming searched but couldn’t find additional information as to why the KFC location closed.

As reported here in May of 2015, the raising of lease rates as a way to force out longtime, locally owned businesses has been happening all over the city, along the El Camino Real corridor and Coast Highway 101. Landlords of strip malls are looking to increase revenue by going with more upscale retailers and restaurants.

So it is speculated that the landlords of the Vons/Camino Village Plaza shopping center forced KFC out by an excessive lease increase. Starbucks' thousands of locations are corporate-owned and thus have much deeper financial pockets to be profitable with higher rents than perhaps an individual KFC franchisee.

The city’s planning department hasn’t heard of plans for a Starbucks yet. “If they are going to change the outside structure, then they’ll need a use permit which will require a public hearing,” said the planning official. “But isn’t there already a Starbucks in Vons?” he questioned.

The now-vacant location may be one of those difficult — as in jinxed — locations. While KFC operated for a long time, it also used to be an Arby’s and a Long John Silvers. In the same parking lot, next door, is Chipotle, which used to be a Boston Market.

Unless Starbucks plans to scrape the location and redesign, KFC’s parking lot has some challenges for what would become a busy drive-thru. Abnormal access points with restricted right- and left-hand turns restrict easy entrance, and the drive’s curvature is too tight for many larger vehicles. The building was constructed long before city regulations would have required better traffic flow.

Numerous attempts by phone or email to get comments from the franchisee, KFC’s district manager, KFC’s parent corporation, Yum! Brands’ media relations, and the center’s leasing agent were unsuccessful.

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I wonder how many low wage low/no benefit workers KFC stiffed?

Much the same thing just happened with a Taco Bell here in Vista--well, technically in Oceanside. I ate lunch there one day, and three days later it was closed, with all the signage removed from the building. That is the former Taco Bell on Melrose in the center that used to have Ralphs, and still has an AutoZone and Walgreens. (Oh, yes, Ralphs shuttered that location about two months ago, after being there for just about twenty-five years. Why? The company gave no clear reasons.) All this does make ya' wondah just what is going on. Landlords are boosting rents in many centers, and often they end up with vacant space that sits empty for months and years.

I live close to that center and had wondered if there'd be some additional fallout once Ralph's left. The center has a freestanding building that looks like it was built to be a bank branch and has apparently never been occupied (certainly not in the six years I've lived in that neighborhood). There must be some kind of great tax break for landlords with empty space because you hear so many stories about how rent increases forced a business to move or close and then you see the space sit empty for years.


I've lived in the area for over 30 years, and when I think I've seen it all, something even stranger comes along. That bank in the center appears to have been built for spec. No, it was never occupied. It has all the accoutrements of a bank branch, and it has sat empty for years. If you look at it, it is easy to see that it would not be all that visible or accessible from Cannon road, and hence not desirable for a retail banking location.

What was the developer thinking? Maybe there was a bank that had expressed interest and later backed out. And there it sits.

While credit unions (like SDCCU) are adding more branch offices, banks don't want nor need them.

Probably was to be a Chase Bank, they were in a huge expansion mode before housing crisis, then halted all new locations. They back out of one at the VONS center on Santa Fe Dr. in Encinitas. (where there was already a U.S. Bank but the center actually has separate owners for various pads, thus we get two pizza places, two banks, etc.)

Maybe, but there's a Chase branch just south on Melrose, no more than a half-mile away. That one that they inherited from WaMu is weirdly hard-to-access too.

Yes, the Encinitas area is changing. It's now known for alcohol establishments and coffee bars. Beer, wine, and hard liquor in abundance. Even a professional office space provider wants a beer and wine license on the premises for enticing renters.
Mayor Gaspar, now running for county supervisor, held a political fundraiser at one of the bars several years ago. Mayor Gaspar is a staunch supporter of businesses including alcohol bars or quasi bars where restaurants became full time bars after 10 or 11.

In Encinitas it seems that everything is wildly controversial, and that a resolution takes many years. Think about that greenhouse property the city acquired several years ago. The neighbors had widely divergent ideas of how the property would be used, even though it was all about making it parkland. As I was able to sort it out, one faction wanted all of it dedicated to sports fields, while another group wanted trees, gardens, walking paths, etc. It is finally finished, or nearly so, and I have no idea how it all got sorted out.

Much like other cities, the Encinitas City Council depends on sales tax revenue to support their heavy spending. The sale of alcohol increases tax revenue, and the majority of the Council won't do anything to lessen that income. It's not controversial to protect residential neighborhoods from the drunk patrons of the alcohol bars.

Mayor Gaspar. Was she reincarnated from a goose or a hornbill? Sorry, I don't like her politics. So I'm taking the liberty of doing a "Trumpism."

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