Savor the Flavor

KFC’s latest Istanbul flagship spices things up with a dash of history and a pinch of modernity

Celebrated as an exotic metropolis where diverse cultures, fragrant cuisine and vibrant textures weave a tapestry forming the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a fitting locale for Louisville, Ky.-based Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), the fast-food restaurant that enjoys an air of mystery thanks to its “secret” blend of 11 herbs and spices.

CBTE Architecture (Istanbul) has designed numerous KFC locations around Turkey for client Yum! Brands Inc. (Louisville, Ky.). Its presence there allows KFC to reimagine its look and feel while striving to maintain a cohesive brand identity.

Although the city is already home to 44 KFC locations, none possess quite the same piquancy as the one located in Sirkeci, an ancient quarter of the city that was once the terminus for the Orient Express, and is today a medley of cosmopolitan architecture, winding streets, couture boutiques and cultural attractions. The restaurant’s ornate 1907 neoclassical façade faces the thriving harbor of the Bosphorus strait, as well as the medieval Galata Tower.

In compliance with historical preservation protocol, no additions or removals to its marble exterior were made. Inside, however, modern style mixes with traditional, and rough textures contrast with smooth surfaces, resulting in a harmonious bridge between the 62-seat venue and its listed envelope. Materials convey a sense of permanency, with natural stone floors, exposed brick walls and marble and timber tabletops, complementing a procession of glazed archways and the ceiling’s metal framework.

“This was a special opportunity for KFC in Turkey to reinterpret the conventional design patterns of fast-food restaurants. The Turkish retail sector is in an era of rapid change as the interest in global brands grows. This has spurred competition and innovation with fast-food establishments like KFC moving away from conventional designs [and] toward more stylish, modern spaces with their own personality.”

– Tanem Eren Belen, co-founder of CBTE Architecture

Selecting the artwork, palettes, graphics and artists for the wall murals was meticulous work, but worthwhile, resulting in a colorful feature made from glazed cini, a Turkish ceramic tile. The wording on the focal element translates as “KFC’s secret recipe, 11 delicious herbs and spices,” while a phrase stenciled onto an adjacent masonry wall is interpreted as “always fresh.”  

“Continuity of [the] brand remains essential, so we ensured KFC’s standard colors, signage and product visuals would provide consistency with the company’s global persona,” Belen says. 

– Article by Alicia Sheber, VMSD.com

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