Local News

So What is Carl's Jr.?

Posted April 28, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The $327 million deal has many asking what exactly is Carl's Jr.? As Bob Langford reports, it's as much a part of life on the West Coast as Hardee's is a part of life here.

Carl's Jr. began in 1941 when a guy named Carl Karcher borrowed 315 bucks to buy a hot dog cart.

The first Carl's Jr. opened in Anaheim 15 years later, and before today there were up to 679 restaurants in five states.

So now that they've bought Hardee's, will we notice a difference?

"You're going to notice a difference," says Art Padilla, a fast-food expert. "For one, Carl's is at fast food's high end.

"Their prices are a little higher. they're going after the middle and up market."

Carl's trademark? Big, messy char-broiled burgers. Their slogan? If it's not all over the place, it shouldn't go in your face.

All which has made CKE one hot company in what is a very congested market.

"Even though we have lots of alternatives, in the fast-food industry, if you do what you do well, you're going to be rewarded."

And today's Carl's Junior was rewarded with the fourth largest hamburger chain in America.

Carl's isn't just venturing into the eastern United States It is also headed to the Far East. Over the next five years, it plans to open 130 restaurants in the Orient.

Even with the buyout, the combined company will still be the fourth largest fast-food chain, behind McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's. Hardee's was the fourth largest chain before the purchase by Carl's.