The New York Times
The New York Times 13 Jan 2020

I Was the Next Colonel Sanders. KFC Had Other Plans.

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It was lunchtime and H. Salt was empty. "How is this place still in business?" I remember thinking. The fish must be amazing, a cult favorite. I ordered a two-piece. It wasn't. I needed to know more.

An initial Google search revealed that this shop was the last gasp of a once-sprawling fish-and-chips empire with hundreds of locations that started with an immigrant's secret family recipe, flourished into an eight-figure deal with Colonel Sanders and ended in collapse.

It took several years and the research help of friends to track down Mr. Salt. We found him in a remote retirement community in Southern California's desert. The rest you can see in the film before you.

"Almost Famous" is a special Op-Docs series of short films directed by Ben Proudfoot featuring people who nearly made history — only to fall short. These are tales of overcoming disappointment at its most epic, from an astronaut who never flew to a superstar who never was.


On May third, the Venezuelan government announced it had detained a group of what it called mercenaries - trying to reach Venezuela on speedboats along with several dozen Colombians.
The group reportedly numbered around 50.
At least eight people were killed in the incident as the Venezuelans in effect ambushed the group, having apparently waited for them on the shore.
The mission, according to the government, was to kill Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro and spark a coup in Caracas.
But others claim the plan was to abduct Maduro, and then take him - nobody knows where.
A Florida-based security company has claimed responsibility for the operation - which was coordinated with Venezuela's opposition, led by Juan Guaido.
But President Maduro insists the United States, and specifically President Trump, knew about the plot from the start.
As the U.S and most of Latin America want Nicolas Maduro out of power, what does this mean for Venezuela?

Presenter: Peter Dobbie

Guests

J.J Rendon, Presidential High Commissioner and General Strategist for the Juan Guaido government
Ramon Muchacho, former Mayor of Chacao District, an opposition stronghold in Caracas, Venezuela.
Isaias Medina, a member of the political party Council of Rumbo Libertad.
Pedro Burelli, a Latin America Political Analyst and Managing Director of B+V Advisors, a business management consulting group.
Watch a preview of Born Wild: The Next Generation, hosted by Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, premiering on April 22 on Nat Geo and Nat Geo WILD. The special offers a revealing look at our planet's next generation of baby animals and their ecosystems.
Thousands of Swedes have been pioneering the use of futuristic microchips that are implanted under the skin of the hand. Now the technology could be introduced to other parts of Europe, like Italy. …
Chris Broussard reacts to The Last Dance documentary on Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls, and discusses how Jordan's upbringing helped him become the greatest of all time.

… show captions ↓
[MUSIC PLAYING]
"(SINGING) It's H. Salt Fish and Chips.
Fish, fresh.
Lightly battered, deep fried.
Potatoes, peeled.
Chip, deep fried.
Salt and vinegar.
Makes my mouth water.
Batter, perfect.
Peanut oil's 350 degrees.
Texture, crispy.
Bite into it and, oh, so good.
Anything that's not good for you is good.
Two pieces of fish and chips.
And don't forget the malt vinegar.
Making me hungry.
Oh, fish and chips.
The two notes that sound beautiful together.
Harmony.
So when you do it like that, things can be exciting.
Who knows?
May have an orgasm, if you do it right."
"This kindly, mild-mannered Englishman is Haddon Salt."
"I always felt that I was an American.
In England, there was the bloody weather,
bloody government.
This is wrong.
You're always so negative.
The thing I love about America is
that this is the home of the power of positive thinking.
The American dream is opportunity
for self-employment.
Otherwise, you're fulfilling somebody else's dream.
Of course, I was in England during World War II.
So I remember that quite vividly.
Towards the end of the war, my father got into business.
And that was when I learned about how
to cook fish and chips."
"He took to frying like a duck to water.
This is my family's original fish and chip shop.
That's my father, a master fryer."
"He worked in the coal mines, the most lowly background
that you can have in England."
"I discovered early that my father's business flourished
because he worked hard and paid great attention to —"
"Quality."
"That's all we thought about was work.
That's all we did.
We had this big navy base near us.
And we had a line-up of people from the day we opened."
"Today is Victory in Europe Day."
"This was the moment we'd all be waiting for."
"I remembered the day that the war
ended, May the 8th, lives just changed.
Your dreams started really opening up.
They were closing the base down.
And they said, we're gonna miss you,
because this is the only English food that we like.
English food did — had a bad reputation."
"Hey, you know what you ought to do?"
"No.
What do you think I ought to do?
And he said —"
"You ought to sell these fish and chips in the States,
that's what you ought to do."
"Name, please."
"Salt.
Salt, what kind of name is that?"
"Aren't you glad they let him in?"
"We found a piece of property in Sausalito.
That was our first shop, H. Salt Esquire.
When you use your name, you're putting your name behind it.
In other words, your reputation.
We were selling the romance of England in our shop.
Wooden paneling and pictures of the tube stations
in London.
People loved it.
I had no idea about franchising in those days.
But I knew that I was gonna do something like that."
"He's accepted a duel with the American hamburger.
He is luring Americans away from hamburgers
to authentic English fish and chips,
through his family's secret recipe."
"When we had the professional advertising,
the line must have been a quarter of a mile long.
It was amazing, opening day.
From then on, we just flew.
We went down to Los Angeles.
It just spread so quickly.
It's contagious.
And so we're opening stores everywhere.
Eventually, wound up with 500.
My name was known everywhere in the country.
They'd say, what's your name?
Haddon Salt. Are you really H. Salt?
We were growing so quickly that I realized
how many components it would take to make this thing work.
But only if you do it right.
And that's the hard part, getting people
to do it right."
"This was the first service station that I had.
But I don't care if I had truck drivers sitting down
there and here come a doctor, I didn't know who he was.
I thought everybody could eat at the same table.
I didn't know anything, only to be friendly.
So that was my first restaurant."
"I admired K.F.C. as the leading food company.
They were ahead of McDonald's in those days.
When they went public, every franchisee
became multimillionaires.
Within a year, the company was worth $500 million
from $2 million.
Now, they've got all this money.
So H. Salt comes along.
I think, ah ha.
Now, I'd been coached before I went in this meeting,
because I'm not used to this kind of stuff.
So they said, well, what do you think
you want for your company?
I said, well, why don't we self for 25 times earnings.
All their faces went pale.
So one of the guys just jumped up.
He says, give me $5 million dollars.
He said, I'll blow this guy off the face of the earth.
And I said, and I want to help you buy my company,
if you want to buy it.
I said, but you can't come in here
and scare me into selling my company,
because it ain't gonna work.
End of conversation.
They all left, came back two hours later, made the deal.
25 times earnings.
$12.5 million in K.F.C. stock.
Then, it proceeded to go up.
That was the first time that I knew how many zeros there
was in a million dollars.
They saw me as the next Colonel Sanders.
All my life, everything I touched turned to gold.
Then, suddenly, it went the other way.
They weren't selling chicken.
They were selling Colonel Sanders.
They weren't selling fish.
They were selling me.
They didn't really grasp what the idea was.
I was trying to put middle-class people into business,
give them the joy of self-employment.
They missed that.
They worked on me big time, but they
didn't work on the company.
They started to lower the standards,
the quality of the fish.
And so the volumes of the restaurants went down.
And people stopped buying franchises.
So that was the end of it.
Didn't grow anymore.
Well, there's still quite a few in Los Angeles,
but they're self-managed.
They're not an authentic English fish and chip shop
anymore.
K.F.C. just let them go.
You're risking your reputation when you put your name
behind something.
You can't walk away from your name.
So —
I don't know.
I don't feel responsible.
I don't feel —
I don't feel guilty or responsible.
I did sell out.
You might say, do you wish you hadn't?
I don't know.
But you know, life moves forward.
You have to keep moving forward."
[SINGING]
"(SINGING) It's H. Salt Fish and Chips."

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