Kennedy Fried Chicken

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Kennedy Fried Chicken
Industry Fast food
Founded 1975 (New York City)
Founder Taeb Zia[1] and Abdul Karim[2]
Headquarters New York City
Products Fried chicken and related Southern American foods

Kennedy Fried Chicken, also known as Crown Fried Chicken, is a common restaurant name primarily in the New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia area, but many other similar establishments are found in nearby smaller cities or towns along the Northeastern United States. Kennedy Fried Chickens typically compete with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in the inner city neighborhoods of several states along the East Coast of the United States. A number of them also exist in the West Coast of the United States, primarily in the state of California.


Kennedy Fried Chicken was founded in 1975 with its first restaurant on Nostrand Avenue in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. There is a dispute among the people involved in the business over who is the actual founder. Some claim that it is Abdul Karim while others say Taeb Zia was the early founder. Zia, an Afghan immigrant originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, is known by some as Zia Chicken or "Lau Chicken" and is regarded as the father of Kennedy Fried Chicken.[3] He immigrated to the United States in 1972 and began working at a fast food restaurant by the name of Kansas Fried Chicken, which was owned by African-Americans at the time. Prior to that he was studying engineering in Baku, Azerbaijan.[1] After spending about three years learning how to run a fast food business, he decided to open his own fried chicken restaurant.

"Then I saw I could do chicken just as well and 15 to 20 percent cheaper with my own recipe and spices."[1]

—Taeb Zia

Kennedy Fried Chicken was named after U.S. President John F. Kennedy, "because Afghans are fond of the former president."[1][3] During the 1980s and 90s, many of the same restaurants have opened across New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland and several other states. Some of these chicken outlets have even opened in the West Coast, in California. Their total number is roughly estimated to be approximately 1,000.

The restaurants[edit]

Inside a Crown Fried Chicken at 3706 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

For the most part the restaurants share the same concept, if not the same menus. In addition to fried chicken, they also offer fried fish, hot wings, short ribs, shrimp, burgers, pizza, beef patties on coco bread, all sorts of sandwiches and heroes, fries, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, onion rings, sweet potato pies and a variety of flavors of ice cream for dessert.[4]

The restaurants are often located in dangerous areas of the most dangerous cities.[5] For this reason, food at many of the inner-city restaurants is served from behind bulletproof glass, especially at night. Some, however, are found in safer suburbs and have added to their menus middle eastern dishes such as kebabs with rice,[6] but Kennedy's and Crown's specialties are the deep-fried chicken (described as "not too dry or too soggy").[4] Chicken and food are quite often ordered a la carte. The menu provided with takeout and delivery orders does not include all the restaurant's offerings, which are usually posted on its walls with accompanying large color photographs of the actual items.

Due to the tendency of these restaurants to appear in inner-city locations, Kennedy and Crown are sometimes referred to as "ghetto chicken" by some of its customers.[7] Despite this, most who have tasted the chicken speak positively about it.

In 2008, one Kennedy Fried Chicken restaurant in Harlem, New York changed its name to "Obama Fried Chicken" in honor of the election of President Barack Obama. This particular one was believed[according to whom?] to be owned and operated by immigrants from Burkina Faso in Western Africa.[8]

Legal matters[edit]

The restaurants are traditionally owned and operated mostly by Afghan-Americans but are not formally connected, although their concept, menus and prices are similar.[2] This lack of centralized control has posed huge problems for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in New York. Since the 1990s, KFC has tried to enforce trademark rules against some of the Kennedy Fried Chicken restaurants, which often used the "KFC" abbreviation and have been known to decorate their restaurants in red and white colors, similar to that of KFC.

Trademark controversy[edit]

In 2005 Abdul Haye, an Afghan immigrant since 1989 and a resident of Whitestone, Queens in New York City, registered Kennedy Fried Chicken as a trademark. He has been attempting to enforce the trademark against other restaurants with mixed results.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Simon, Julian Lincoln (1999). The economic consequences of immigration 2. United States: University of Michigan Press. p. 224. ISBN 0-472-08616-2. Retrieved August 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Steven Kurutz, ed. (August 15, 2004). "Chicken Little". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Dan Bilefsky, ed. (February 13, 2011). "A Chicken War in New York, Where Afghans Rule the Roost". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2011. I'm declaring war against all the Afghans in New York who have stolen my name and my idea... Their poor-quality chicken is going to kill my reputation... I am the only real Kennedy! 
  4. ^ a b Restaurant Review: A Fast Food King With Many Choices, Southeast Queens Press, undated
  5. ^ "Camden will try again to impose a curfew on late-night takeouts". March 28, 2011. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  6. ^ "Fort Washington restaurant brings kabob to south county". December 4, 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  7. ^ Smith, Andrew. Fast Food and Junk Food: An Encyclopedia of What We Love To Eat, pg. 387, ISBN 978-0-313-39393-8, 2011, Greenwood Publishing, Santa Barbara, California.
  8. ^ see: Obama Fried Chicken or Obama Fried Chicken & Pizza at for details.

External links[edit]