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Hardee's Turns Up the Heat on the Burger Business

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ROCKY MOUNT — A national fast food chain based in Rocky Mount looked like it was down for the count. But now it is making waves in the industry.

Hardee'sis about to post its first profitable quarter in two years. A new look and a new attitude are bringing customers back.

It is Kim Watson's first meal at a Hardee's in two years.

"I just noticed the courtesy, and was amazed how quick the service was and the cleanliness of the place. It's kind of like a different Hardee's," said Watson.

Two years ago, the fast food chain was losing money and laying off employees. Since then, Hardee's has merged with a California company, made menu changes and tried to polish its image. Now, Hardee's is savoring dramatic sales increases.

"At least 10 percent increases in where we were in our sales base. And we're happy with that, and most importantly, the franchise community that has participated in this test as well have been really happy with the sales gains," said Thomas Lewison, senior vice president of operations.

"I really wasn't looking forward to the group from California taking over at first, but it's been a positive change, I think," said customer William Bryan.

Customers are not the only ones taking notice. The industry is as well. "Quick Service Restaurants" magazine is running a front cover story on the chain next month.

After testing the changes for a year in Rocky Mount, expansion is headed toward the Triangle. Friday, the chain announced it is going to renovate 93 restaurants in the area by summer.

The chain operates nearly 3,000 restaurants nationwide. They hope to renovate every one of them during the next three years.


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