REGINA – The local KFC restaurant in Weyburn, SK is no ordinary fast-food joint.
“We’ve had people in here from all over the world,” Front cashier Irene Gautier says.
For the past six years she’s been working at KFC, Gautier has always been the first to greet customers and is proud to reveal the restaurant’s special ingredients.
“Weyburn is Weyburn, they’re the greatest people there is and they’re passionate about their buffet.” Gautier adds.
The Weyburn KFC buffet was the first to open among the Canadian franchises in 1988. However, since then almost all have been shuttered across the country and only two remain, one in Humbodlt, SK and the one in Weyburn.
“This is the only thing that is ours,” Gautier says.
For many fried-chicken lovers, the buffet is filled with fond memories.
“I was always excited when my parents told me we were coming to KFC and the buffet,” student Jaime Wagner says.
However, unsavoury news came this week as rumours began swirling that the beloved buffet could be shutdown.
“If we lose this, we lose people, we lose staff and that’s not good for community,” Gautier explains.
The news drew the attention of Canadian celebrities, the Premier and ironically even Health Minister Dustin Duncan who worked there as a teen.
“All things in moderation except when it comes to a buffet,” Dustin joked. “There’s been attempts over the years to try and kill our buffet in Weyburn and we’ll fight it one more time.”
That chance came Wednesday afternoon as dozens of residents held a sit-in rally as corporate executives came to town to tour the restaurant.
“The buffet is open and obviously I can’t guarantee it will be open forever but we appreciate all the support we are getting from the local community,” KFC Canada operations director Liann Free said.
For Gautier it’s a small short-term win for Weyburn, where a buffet is much more than just food, it’s community.
“That’s right, it is the community centre,” she said, tearing up.