For better or worse, most people can’t deny that they love a bit of fast food from time to time. And today the choice is almost endless, with a vast array of takeaways and drive-thrus to choose from in all towns and cities, meaning you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your car to get that hit.

Some, however, are more well-liked than others. And there is one restaurant and drive-thru in Carmarthen that doesn’t seem that popular with its customers, with a large number of highly critical reviews being written by people who have attempted to scratch that fast food itch but have been left disappointed, to say the least. To get the latest What’s On newsletters from WalesOnline, click here.

KFC, or Kentucky Fried Chicken to give it its full name, was founded almost a century ago in 1930 in the US state of, you guessed it, Kentucky. Well 82 years later, in 2012, the American chicken behemoth opened its first outlet in Carmarthen, and it’s fair to say it hasn’t always been plain sailing in terms of its reputation.

Read more: Inside the best place to eat in Carmarthen according to Tripadvisor

According to TripAdvisor, it has a rating of 2.0 out of 5 based on 195 reviews. However, of those 195 reviews, 60% of them are filed under ‘terrible’. That’s 118 ‘terrible’ reviews, along with 31 ‘poor’ reviews. Only 17 out of the 195 reviews left are scored ‘excellent’. To put that into context, the McDonald’s restaurant and drive-thru, situated about 200 yards away in the same area of Pensarn in Carmarthen, has more ‘excellent’ reviews (22) than it does ‘terrible’ ones (20), and an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5.

The bad reviews for KFC are not a new thing, either. They started a decade back, just weeks after the restaurant opened. Some of them are particularly scathing, while others are downright funny. Even in October 2012, the same month as the branch opened, one disappointed customer said: “Poor service, poor attitude, over cooked food, genuinely disappointed and a severe lack of nachos. The language and conversation amongst the staff that could be heard when I collected my food from the drive-thru was appalling.”

In 2013 one customer said: “I’ve tried this KFC twice now and both times it was awful. The first time the chips were lukewarm and tasted like they’d been standing for far too long! The gravy was watery and had a dishwater taste, absolutely nothing like the usual thick tasty KFC gravy! The second time I visited the chips and gravy were exactly the same and the chicken coating was not fully cooked. No napkins given either. Terrible quality of food…a serious shake up needed!”

One member of the public was not very impressed with the staff at the restaurant back in 2015, writing: “Two members of staff very rude and intimidating! The lady taking the order and the lady giving you the food (very bolshy) – that was the manager’s words when I went in to complain and explain! Manager himself was very helpful. I’d avoid this place unless you enjoy being talked down to by what look and sound like Jeremy Kyle extras.”

One hungry dad and his daughter had a bad time in 2017 by the sounds of it, labelling their visit “impressively awful”. He said: “Walking in there was like a scene from The Walking Dead, with greased up flesh eating walkers dragging their limbs across the filthy floor. We should have walked out at that point. The chicken was wet and greasy, the burger buns were hard and the contents soggy and mushy. We attempted to eat them but failed.

“I returned the trays of mess back to our server who tried to offer another tray of ‘freshly cooked’ chicken. I declined and got a refund. My daughter could hardly stand up in the toilets due to the greasy floor – maybe they could open up a winter wonderland in there next year? We then went to McDonald’s, which was like walking into a five-star restaurant after KFC.”

One man from Llanelli called the Carmarthen branch the “worst KFC in the UK”. He said: “Called here again. The place is still filthy, tables never wiped or cleaned, piles of rubbish everywhere and food all over the floors. Toilets are disgusting. How this place has not been picked up by hygiene standards is beyond me. As always a huge line of people 12 deep and one person serving, all other tills closed as usual. If there was an award for the worst KFC in the UK, this would win hands down.”

One woman simply asked “What’s fast about this food?” – before adding: “Ordered food and then waited over half an hour to get it, staff hadn’t got a clue what was going on, arguing amongst themselves and one walked out”, while a man who had travelled from Milford Haven said: “Extremely poor. Almost unbelievable.”

In more recent years, the problems faced by customers visiting KFC in Carmarthen don’t seem to have been rectified. In 2019, one diner described a visit that included “the most bizarre staff interaction I’ve ever experienced”. They said: “Drove through Carmarthen KFC and all seemed OK until we got home and most of the food was missing. Checked receipt to check and approx £12 of food was missing. I called the branch and explained the situation, they were expecting my call and apologised which was encouraging and indicated a positive outcome. I suggested that the meal could be delivered and the member of staff told me she wasn’t there to be spoken to like ‘that’, they weren’t a taxi service. I pointed out the fault lay with the outlet and it was their responsibility to rectify the situation. I was told she didn’t need this abuse, was told to ‘fxxk off’ and cut off.”

One mum from Carmarthen wrote: “Waited 15 minutes for food and in that time it just seemed chaotic with no organisation, then there was a clear bust up between staff in the kitchen area as you could hear the shouting loudly. One member of staff apologised as I had my young son with me. Our order finally came and off we went, but they’d forgotten my son’s drink so went back in for that. Then back in car and off home only to find that there were no chips for the bucket order at all. So overall an expensive takeaway and not a pleasant experience. Won’t be going back in a hurry.”

The restaurant and drive-thru in Carmarthen has now been open for a decade

Last summer one man who ate at the restaurant said: “Unable to get a simple order right. 90% of the order missing. What we did have was cold and messy. Spent the best part of an hour trying to get in contact with them to try and sort the issues out but apparently they have a ‘do not answer the phone under any circumstances policy’ – absolutely shocking”, while another customer weeks before that wrote about an “atrocious visit”.

In January of this year a woman who uses a walking aid claims she nearly fell due to the state of the restaurant floor. She said: “As I was leaving the restaurant I nearly slipped and fell. I had to grab hold of a chair and table to stop myself. The floor was filthy and very greasy. I use a walking stick and could very well have ended up in hospital if I had actually fallen. The three staff watching me leave laughed very loudly instead of checking that I was OK.”

In February a customer from Llanelli said: “Waited at the drive-thru for 10 minutes, ended up going into the restaurant to be served, worst thing I ever did. The toilet was filthy, bins overflowing with debris over the floor! We left straight away.” The most recent review, left on May 16, reads: “Seen none of the staff wearing hairnets and due to this I found four hairs on my food. Obviously off putting and not acceptable. They seem to always get the order wrong and staff just seem like they don’t want to be there.”

One review, however, described a better experience at the branch. The five-star review posted in May 2021 said: “Went to KFC in Carmarthen the experience was great. Staff was so nice and friendly and up for a laugh. Never had a bad experience with this fast food chain.”

Another, posted in January 2020 said: “Love a KFC!!! And this one did not disappoint, friendly and helpful staff and yummy food served fast.”

Despite the large number of negative reviews left on TripAdvisor, the restaurant does boast an official hygiene rating of five – the highest score – according to the Food Standards Agency website, during an inspection more than three years ago in January 2019. Concerns about the standard of the food, service and cleanliness raised by KFC customers in Carmarthen were put to the fast food giant, who responded by saying they are “working hard” to improve things at the restaurant.

A KFC spokeswoman said: “The Colonel is passionate about his food always being finger lickin’ good, so we’re sorry to see these reviews. The team are working hard to improve Pensarn restaurant’s ratings and we’d like to encourage our fans to get in touch when things don’t go to plan so we can try and make things right as quickly as possible.”

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