When it comes to the heavy-hitters of one of the world's biggest franchises, it is hard to believe Warrnambool would be in their sweet spot. But in 1968, that is exactly what happened. Warrnambool was to play a role in one of the biggest rags to riches stories in history. Harland Sanders had tried his hand at numerous endeavours in his native Kentucky; a fireman, a soldier, a blacksmith, a lawyer and a boat operator. But it was in the kitchen, and in his 60s, that Sanders finally found fortune and fame. Sanders came up with a recipe for fried chicken which was so "finger lickin' good" that it became a world-wide phenomenon. In 1939, Sanders developed 11 secret herbs and spices for his fried chicken, and in 1952 the first franchise of Kentucky Fried Chicken was opened. While the man now known as Colonel Sanders watched as his empire grew at a rapid rate in the US, Australians had to wait until 1968 to discover the delights of his magical chicken. Not surprisingly, Australia's biggest city was chosen as the home of the first Kentucky Fried Chicken store down under. The opening in the Sydney suburb of Guildford in April that year was such a success that six more were quickly built in the harbour city, and two in Melbourne. But it was the next venue that was perhaps the most newsworthy. The sleepy seaside town of Warrnambool was given the nod for the next store. Franchisee Ted Rice purchased Holbrook's Garage on the corner of Raglan Parade and Foster Street and began converting the building into the Warrnambool home of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The town was abuzz with excitement with the store opening its doors to the public on December 19, 1968. The day before, the who's who of Warrnambool were invited to a special "taste-in" where they got to sample the menu and received a tour of the kitchen. Invited guests included the mayor of Warrnambool Mr K.L. Arnel and his wife. The Standard reported prominent "Warrnambool businessmen and their wives" were among the chosen few in attendance. By the time the public were let in the doors, everything was fine-tuned and ready to go. Lines stretched out the door as hungry diners wanted not only a taste of the good stuff but to be part of history. The menu on offer that day was packed full of all those items that had seemed out of reach. The Bucket included 15 pieces of chicken, half a pint of gravy and five rolls for the cost of $3.75. The Barrel was 21 pieces for $4.95, and was promoted as being ideal for parties and church functions. Side orders included tangy coleslaw, mixed bean salad and creamy whipped potatoes. It was to be the start of a relationship between a country city and a global giant that continues unabated more than five decades later. Of course, Warrnambool's KFC now operates further west along Raglan Parade on the corner of Kepler Street, a place it has called home since the early 1990s. But for many, the original location on Foster Street will always have a special connection. For past generations it was where they went as a family for a special treat, when takeaway was just that. Or as the favoured destination for the perfect hangover cure. Or for the tourists in town who made Easter and speedway weekends the store's busiest of the year and helped it win awards almost annually in the KFC group for outstanding performance. There is no one more connected to Kentucky Fried Chicken in Warrnambool than Frank Dalton. As the longest-serving manager at the original store, 1978-1993, Mr Dalton speaks passionately about his former workplace and colleagues. "It was a wonderful place to work and be part of," Mr Dalton said. "The reason that first store was so successful was we had a great staff and a great product. "A lot of the staff had just left school or were working after school so it was a step into the big wide world for them. "It was my responsibility to make sure they were well looked after, got home safe and enjoyed their work." KFC was a family affair for Mr Dalton, with his sons Chris and Duane and daughter Toni all working at the store. Chris in fact climbed through the ranks to be a KFC area manager. Frank was also an award-winning manager at a national level, as were a number of assistant managers, including Janet Mustard, Rosemary Westwick and Kathy Samon. The high standard of work and the popularity of the KFC brand meant Warrnambool eventually outgrew its Foster Street store. The site for the new store was ironically the former home of a KFC competitor, Ollies Trolley. The new and old stores were running in conjunction for a short time before the original was retired. Mr Dalton helped oversee this change before starting up his own small chicken store in Gateway Plaza, which he ran successfully for a number of years. He is now enjoying retirement in Lara but still catches up with some of his former KFC colleagues. "I made some great friendship which are still going strong today," Mr Dalton said. IN OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.