The World's Largest KFC Operates In A 1920s Train Station

What do you think of when you think about KFC store design? You might think of compact, contemporary, somewhat minimalist roadside restaurants with drive-thru lanes, plenty of parking to pick up a bucket or two, and red and white exteriors emblazoned with those three beloved letters (KFC, once known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) and, usually, an image of white-haired fried chicken chain founder Harland Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders (per the company's website).

What you might not think of, however, are historic buildings with ornate exteriors, soaring cathedral ceilings, and wide-open spaces for serving and seating hundreds of guests. KFC made headlines a couple of years ago when it announced forward-thinking design plans that favor drive-thru business, contact-free ordering, and pick-up (thanks, COVID), smaller dining areas, and sheltered outdoor seating referred to as the "Colonel's Porch” (per CNN Business).

The world loves finger-lickin'-good fried chicken, and KFC has branched out well beyond Corbin, Kentucky, to establish more than 24,000 stores in hundreds of countries. But one outpost, ensconced in a former railway station in Baku, Azerbaijan, really stands out (per Explored Planet).

The world's largest KFC is 17,000 square feet

If crispy chicken with a side order of history is your idea of the perfect lunch or dinner outing, then you will want to add the ginormous KFC outlet in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to your (wait for it) bucket list. At 1,600 square meters, it's the fried chicken chain's largest restaurant (per Explored Planet). Bear in mind that 1,600 meters translates to more than 17,000 square feet. That's a whole lot of room to spread out and enjoy a fried chicken sandwich or four-piece tenders combo.

Its size isn't the only thing that makes the KFC in Baku special. The restaurant is housed in the capital city's former Sabunchu train station, designed by architect N.G. Bayev and constructed in 1926 (per Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). The exterior of the beige stone building is flanked by two domed towers. There's an arched front entrance, and, of course, KFC signage. The interior's design elements include cathedral ceilings with painted panels in eye-catching patterns. AFK Ltd., KFC's franchisee in Azerbaijan, reportedly spent more than €3 million to give the old train station a new lease on life in 2012.

Other KFCs are a departure from the norm

The words fancy and KFC don't seem to belong in the same sentence, but the KFC outlet in teeny-tiny Painted Post, New York, a couple of miles from major glass destination Corning, can claim to have the world's fanciest KFC. This particular KFC, a re-purposed bank, has been dubbed the "Crystal Bucket.” Its design, which includes a series of tall, curved glass windows, is definitely a departure from the usual, square-ish KFCs we've come to know, love, and expect (per Nation's Restaurant News).

Speaking of departures from the ordinary: KFC is known for that, both in the United States and abroad. Residents of Marietta, Georgia, for example, would be lost without the "Big Chicken." That's the 56-foot steel chicken sculpture (of sorts) that very visibly adds interest to one KFC in the Atlanta suburb (per Delish). When it comes to size, bigger is better in the Ukrainian city of Kyiv: At a KFC there, double drive-thru lanes are designed to accommodate 200 cars per hour. Dine-in options include a patio with seating for 400 and a dining area with 280 seats — almost as many as the world's largest KFC, in the former Azerbaijan train station.