Customers at a New York City KFC hoping to redeem coupons for a free meal were disgruntled when the fast-food restaurant ran out of its new grilled chicken, but Internet rumors of a riot were unfounded, a Kentucky Fried Chicken spokeswoman said Wednesday.
"Some customers were upset because they couldn't get their chicken, but there was no riot," said Laurie Schalow.
Schalow said the Manhattan restaurant on East 42nd Street plans to begin honoring the coupons again Thursday after it resupplies the kitchen.
The coupons were available on Oprah.com for 24 hours beginning Tuesday after Oprah announced the meal promotion on her show. Each downloadable coupon can be redeemed for two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit.
KFC, owned by Louisville-based Yum Brands YUM, introduced its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken about three weeks ago. The new menu item is being touted as lower in fat, calories and sodium than the traditional deep-fried chicken for which KFC is known the world over. It even has it's own secret recipe, kept under lock and key near the original 11 herbs and spices recipe for fried chicken created by KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders.
Schalow said the grilled chicken has been a huge success, and the combination of a bad economy and Oprah's popularity created a "perfect storm."
"We prepared for it," Schalow said, noting that a KFC restaurant can only serve so many people during the lunch and dinner hours. "We didn't prepare for this extreme."
But Schalow said customers have until May 19th to redeem their coupons, Mother's Day excluded, and she encouraged the public to return later.
A spokewoman for Oprah's Harpo Productions in Chicago said they are not aware of any problems with the coupons.
Schalow said KFC restaurants across the United States were bustling on Wednesday because of the coupon offer.
"A lot of restaurants experienced very, very heavy traffic with people trying to redeem the coupons." she said, though KFC headquarters did not hear of any other problems with customers other than the those at the New York City franchise. "All stores are very busy today, very long lines, that's what we're hearing."
Schalow said some KFC stores may have run out of some products, such as mashed potatoes and gravy or cole slaw, "but they are substituting as best they can."
Associated Press Writer Caryn Rousseau in Chicago contributed to this report.