Filed Under Food and Cuisine

Harman's Red Barn Restaurant

Hot Biscuits & Chicken Steaks

Opened in 1952 by Dave and Belle Harman along the Tempe-Mesa Highway, the Red Barn served customers for only about twenty years.

Among the many items on Harman's menu was "Kentucky Fried Chicken." The family had licensed the recipe from Harland Sanders, who had not yet opened his restaurant franchises. The KFC franchise slogan, "finger licking good," may even have been born in Tempe. The idea to license Sander's recipe came from Pete Harman, the brother of Red Barn owner Dave Harman. Indeed, brother Pete owned restaurants in Salt Lake City, and Pete was the first franchisee of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Peter Harman helped develop and extend their franchising system. It is perhaps not surprising that after Harman's closed in the 1970s, the iconic red barn was demolished and replaced by a Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchise.


Harman's Red Barn Plate
Harman's Red Barn Plate A decorative plate from Harman's Red Barn, on display at the Tempe History Museum. Source: Tempe History Museum Creator: Mark Tebeau Date: 2017
Postcard Promoting the Ranch
Postcard Promoting the Ranch Businesses along heavily traveled tourist routes, such as the Tempe Mesa Highway produced postcards for guests as a way of promoting their businesses. The ranch-style restaurant has 1950s era cars parked out front (allowing us to date the image); also prominent is the restaurant's iconic neon sign. Owners Belle and Dave Harman are shown in the corners. Source: Tempe History Museum, 2014.11.1. Date: 1950
Advertising Harman's
Advertising Harman's Harman's advertised its unique "Kentucky Fried Chicken" in a full-page advertisement in Arizona Days and Ways, a magazine inserted into the Sunday Arizona Republic. This particular issue celebrated the 50th anniversary of Arizona becoming a state.  Source: Arizona Republic, February 11, 1962; image from Brad Hall, History Adventuring, "The Connection with Harman's and Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken," n.d., accessed April 14, 2017. Date: 1962
Harman's Restaurant
Harman's Restaurant Harman's Restaurant as it began its transition to becoming Kentucky Fried Chicken. Notice the KFC logo and sign out front. Eventually, the restaurant was bulldozed and replaced by a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, with its distinctive red and white palette. Source: image from Brad Hall, History Adventuring, "The Connection with Harman's and Col. Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken," n.d., accessed April 14, 2017. Date: ca. 1960s
Harman's Ranch Menu
Harman's Ranch Menu The Menu from Harman's Ranch Restaurant has a distinctive Western theme. It depicts the proprietors: Dave Harman ropes cow while Belle watches. A sign reads: "Tempe, Arizona, a swell place to live". The back is designed like a giant postcard with a map of Arizona. Source: Tempe History Museum, 2014.11.2. Date: ca. 1960
Harman's Ranch Postcard
Harman's Ranch Postcard Harman's Ranch beckoned travelers to stop in for some "Kentucky Fried Chicken," licensed from none other than Colonel Harland Sanders. Date: ca. 1965


1314 E. Apache Blvd, Tempe, Arizona


Salt River Stories Team and Mark Tebeau, “Harman's Red Barn Restaurant,” Salt River Stories, accessed June 24, 2024,