L to R: Harold Omer, Ray Danner and Lee Cummings. Danner was the owner of Shoney’s, which at the time owned the Famous Recipe franchise.
The founding of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken.
Lee Cummings, the nephew of Colonel Harland Sanders, spent his childhood in the kitchen of his Henryville, Indiana home. Lee hit the road with his Uncle Harland in 1952, selling their own special blend of spices along with their famous pressure cookers, which later became part of KFC’s “secret Recipe”. In three years, Lee and the Colonel opened over 800 KFC stores. In 1962, the Colonel sold KFC to John Y. Brown.
After the sale of KFC, Lee Cummings started developing his recipe later to be known as “Famous Recipe.” In 1966, Lee along with Harold Omer started “Harold’s Take-Home” in Lima, Ohio where Lee first introduced Famous Recipe Chicken.
By 1967, Lee and Bob Burick in Springfield, Ohio opened the fifth franchise store. Later that year, stores followed in Dayton and Cincinnati as well as in Michigan.
In 1972, Famous Recipe had 100 stores and by 1979 the number had doubled to 200. In 1981, Lee Cummings sold the chain to Shoney’s Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee and in 1995, it was sold to RTM Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Georgia.
Locally, there are two major franchisees in the Miami Valley that keep the tradition of Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken in the community.
Harold Omer was also a manager of aerospace engineering at Lima’s Westinghouse plant. Sometimes he would leave the office and go straight to his second job of frying chicken.
Harold K. Omer died in 1999. He is located in Section 100 of the Woodland Mausoleum.