Wilbur Hardee (August 15, 1918 – June 20, 2008) was the founder of the American fast-food restaurant chain Hardee's, located mostly in the Midwest and Southeast regions.
Wilbur Hardee was born in Martin County, North Carolina on August 15, 1918. Raised on his family's farm, he eventually left the family business to become a musician and later a grill cook. Hardee joined the United States Navy during World War II, but upon his uncle's death, he returned to the United States. After returning he met and married Kathryn Roebuck in 1945 .
With his wife, he opened a series of restaurants and inns in North Carolina, including the Do Drop Inn and Port Terminal Inn and the Silo Restaurant. He studied the things that the public seems to respond to the most at existing quick-serve restaurants at the time and an idea formed that would evolve into the first Hardee's restaurant concept. On September 3, 1960, he opened the first Hardee's location in his hometown of Greenville.
Wilbur Hardee died in his home town of Greenville, North Carolina on June 20, 2008, and was cremated two days later.
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