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THE EATBEAT: Convenience and bargains make KFC an ideal option

Mashed potatoes and gravy have not gone away. It's just that they are hard to find in this world of burgers and French fries.

So I swung into the parking lot where Col. Sanders, with his red and white stripes, presides. It was early afternoon, and I joined a few late lunch people in the dining room that looks out on Washington Street.

One group of five was seriously eating a big bucket of chicken. They were obviously hungry and obviously enjoying a full meal. They didn't talk much, but one of the women occasionally slithered over to the drinks counter to refill glasses.

When they left, they carefully tucked food they had left into one of the red-and-white-striped buckets to take along with them.

There is a wide range of customers at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and long-time manager Rick Hanson says 40 to 45 percent of the business is done through the drive-through window.

I especially like the light brown gravy that comes with the mashed potatoes. The chicken tenders are tasty, although you have to bite through a lot of crispy breading before you get to the chicken.

It's something people who work at places like Kentucky Fried Chicken understand. For a casual customer, it is pretty much OK.

And the biscuit that comes along with my order of a ''fill up box'' was, as always, predictably good. My fill up box was $7.78 and is going right now for $5.

What many families understand is picking up a meal from time to time for $20 at KFC makes life easier. They get eight pieces of the original KFC chicken along with two large orders of mashed potatoes and gravy. And there is a large, very good coleslaw with four biscuits.

The chicken chain was founded in 1934 by Col. Harland Sanders during the Great Depression. It was coming of age in 1952, when it challenged the dominance of hamburgers. Now the KFC has outlets in 118 countries. And the largest number, 4,563, are in China.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has been in Grand Forks since 1967.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

706 S. Washington Street

Grand Forks

Owner: Champ's Fine Foods, Winnipeg

Manager: Rick Hanson

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Eatbeat Report Card: Groups depend on KFC for consistency and low prices. The restaurant is well managed. A place where singles or groups find bargains. Well lit and cheery ambience.