KFC spent $2 million to revamp this one restaurant

Source: KFC/Yum Brands

In just the past year alone, KFC has redesigned 400 restaurants, or 10 percent of its U.S. locations, but one remodel stands apart from the rest.

The Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia, is an iconic storefront — with a more than 50-foot metal chicken jutting out its front — and its one of KFC's most successful locations.

For 12 weeks, the Big Chicken was shut down to undergo a substantial remodel. The store's franchise partner, KBP Foods, invested more than $2 million in the project.

KFC spent $2 million to revamp this one restaurant
KFC spent $2 million to revamp this one restaurant

"We are on a journey here, our brand turnaround is going into its fourth year and we've had 11 quarters of good same-store sales," Brian Cahoe, chief development officer for KFC, told CNBC. "We are happy about the momentum."

Two years ago, KFC's parent, Yum Brands, said it would invest $185 million to revive the brand. The renovation is part of that reboot.

The Big Chicken's sales were well above the system average prior to its remodel and is expected to significantly increase following its reopening last week, Cahoe said.

Here's a look at the revamped Big Chicken location:

The Big Chicken

Source: KFC/Yum Brands

The original steel structure for the eye-rolling, beak-moving metal chicken was built in 1963 and has become a landmark in Marietta. The attraction brings in diners from across the U.S. and abroad.

In the '90s, after the structure incurred damage from a storm, KFC and local officials talked about tearing it down. However, there was public outcry, particularly from pilots, Cahoe said.

Local pilots had used the Big Chicken as a marker for their flight paths for years and were outspoken about having the landmark repaired. 

The most recent remodel kept the Big Chicken's signature eye roll and moving beak, but also gave the chicken a voice. Customers can now tune into an AM radio station to hear "deep thoughts" from the Big Chicken. 

Warm and bright lighting

Counter at The Big Chicken with window into the kitchen
Source: KFC/Yum Brands

The interior design of KFC's new restaurants were partially influenced by chains like Starbucks, Panera Bread and Five Guys, Cahoe said. 

"The game has changed in the last decade," Cahoe said. "Newer concepts have really changed the consumer prospective and elevated their expectations, even on things like design."

In order to fit this mold, the chicken chain upgraded many of its bulbs to LED lights for sustainability and efficiency. Glowing pendant lights were added to make the space appear warmer and more inviting.

Keen eyes will spot that many of the chain's new lamps are designed to look like KFC's famous chicken buckets.

Big Chicken merchandise

Merchandise available at The Big Chicken
Source: KFC/Yum Brands

The Marietta Big Chicken is the only KFC chain in the U.S. that has its own mascot — The Little Chicken — and one of only a few chains that sell KFC merchandise. 

Customers who visit can buy Big Chicken mugs and shot glasses, among other items. 

Craft beverages from Pepsi

Source: KFC/Yum Brands

KFC worked with its beverage partner, Pepsi, to add craft colas to the restaurant. The line, Stubborn Soda, isn't available at other KFC restaurants. 

The flavors include: Agave Vanilla Cream Soda, Classic Root Beer, Lemon Berry Acai, Black Cherry with Tarragon and Orange Hibiscus.

Window into the kitchen

Merchandise available at The Big Chicken
Source: KFC/Yum Brands

Other details specific to this location include a window into the kitchen where customers can see the chain's cooks hand-breading the original recipe and extra crispy chicken.

Near the cashiers, there is a chalkboard that tells customers where the chicken that is being cooked has come from.

Tribute to the Colonel

Wall celebrating the “original celebrity chef”
Source: KFC/Yum Brands

The Big Chicken also features a wall dedicated to Colonel Sanders.

The wall, features a sign that reads: "The Original Celebrity Chef" and photographs of KFC's founder Harland Sanders.