The 2006-present logo
|Wholly owned subsidiary|
|Headquarters||Carpinteria, California, U.S.|
Number of locations
|1,385 (April 2015)|
|Carl Karcher, Margaret Karcher, Founders|
|Slogan||"Eat Like You Mean It"|
Carl's Jr. is an American-based fast-food restaurant chain operating in the Western and Southwestern states. As of 2015[update] it has started expanding and is now in multiple other countries. CKE Restaurants, Inc owns the chain.
Carl Karcher founded the predecessor of Carl's Jr. in 1941; his first restaurant was a sit-down full-service location called Carl's Drive-In Barbeque. As this became successful, he decided to open up a chain of smaller restaurants called Carl's, with more limited menus. In 1954, the chain was renamed Carl's Jr. and the fast-food chain took off.
The parent company, CKE Restaurants, Inc., purchased the Hardee's chain in 1997, and is slowly amalgamating the two chains.
In 2012, Nation's Restaurant News rated Carl's Jr. as the #37 foodservice chain in the United States based on sales through 2011. Hardee's was listed at #28. If the two chains sales were combined, they would have been at #15. In 2013, QSR listed Carl's Jr. at #24 and Hardee's at #20; if combined they would have been listed at #14.
In 1941 Carl Karcher and his wife, Margaret Karcher (née. Heinz), borrowed $311 on their Plymouth automobile and purchased a hot dog cart which they operated at 1108 North Harbor Boulevard in Anaheim, California. One cart grew to four, including a location at Florence and Central in South L.A. In less than five years, they owned a restaurant with hamburgers on the menu in Anaheim, California called Carl's Drive-In Barbeque. In 1956, Karcher opened the first two Carl's Jr. restaurants — so named because they were a smaller version of his drive-in restaurant — in Anaheim and Brea. The restaurant chain was characterized by its fast service, table service as a standard feature, and its logo, the bright yellow five-pointed Happy Star. CKE's other chain, Hardee's, now shares this logo, after a post-merge rebranding.
In 1981, with 300 restaurants in operation, Carl Karcher Enterprises became a publicly held company. In 1988, Carl and his family were accused of insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. They had sold large quantities of stock before the price dropped. Carl agreed to a settlement with the SEC and paid more than half a million dollars in fines.
The late 1980s and 1990s brought trouble early on and success later. Carl's Jr. chains had struggled to gain success in Arizona and Texas, perhaps diminishing hopes of expansion to other states, though later states like Nevada, Oregon and Washington proved successful. During the 1990s Karcher and the Board of Directors began clashing over marketing and business practices, including the chain's attempt at dual branding with such chains as The Green Burrito, which led to Karcher's ouster as Chief Executive Officer in 1993. Soon after, the Board of Directors took a new approach by cutting the menu, lowering prices, and introducing a new marketing campaign which targeted younger urban and suburban males. During this time, commercials for Carl's Jr. featured an animated caricature of Carl Karcher and the chain's mascot, Happy Star.
During the mid-1990s, Carl's Jr. unveiled its "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face" campaign which featured younger people eating Carl's Jr.'s burgers with ketchup and juice dripping from the burger and onto clothes and other areas.
Carl's Jr. expanded, and currently has more than 1,000 locations in 13 U.S. states, as well as in Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Singapore New Zealand and Russia Australia's first store opened in 2016 in NSW. In 2007, five new branches were opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, located at 1-Utama Shopping Complex, Midvalley Megamall, Sunway Pyramid, Mines Shopping Fair and the new Pavilion KL Shopping Complex is the first branch they opened for their comeback. In total, there have been seven branches in Malaysia. The Masjid Jamek branch, Ampang Park branch and the Lake Gardens branch were closed in 1998.
Featured food items include the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger and the Six Dollar Burger, so called because it is claimed to be of the same quality of a burger one would pay six dollars for in a sit-down restaurant. In May 2005, Carl's Jr. introduced "The Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger" in a controversial advertising campaign (see below).
In 1997, CKE Restaurants acquired Hardee's, a restaurant chain with 2,500 locations in the Midwest, South and East Coast regions. Hardee's restaurants are gradually being converted to be more like Carl's Jr. with some of the same menu items and even adopting the same star logo. In turn, Carl's Jr. restaurants started to sell Hardee's breakfast items. The chain opened at least one restaurant in a former Rally's location in Hollywood with a drive-thru lane, walk-up window and no interior seating. This location carried the unique branding Carl's Jr. Jr. This restaurant operated for over 10 years, but as of 2011 has been replaced by a Chick-Fil-A.
In 2002, CKE Restaurants acquired Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, the parent company of the Green Burrito brand. Some Carl's Jr. and Hardee's stores are now co-branded as Green Burrito locations. Three Carl's Jr. locations in downtown Los Angeles serve beer: Macy's Plaza on 7th & Flower, California Mart at Main & Olympic, and Citigroup Plaza at 5th & Flower.
In October 2006, Carl's Jr. and sister-company Hardee's introduced a promotion with The Palms Casino Hotel to sell a $6,000 Combo Meal exclusively at The Palms. This meal includes the signature Six Dollar Burger, fries, and a $6,000 bottle of French Bordeaux. This meal is available on the Palms room service menu.
In 2008, Carl's Jr. expanded into American Samoa, alongside fellow competitors McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Checkers.
On January 11, 2008, Carl Karcher, the founder of hamburger chain Carl's Jr., died at the age of 90. A spokeswoman for CKE Restaurants said Mr. Karcher suffered from Parkinson's disease and was being treated for Parkinson's-related pneumonia when he died at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California. Many Carl's Jr. restaurants flew their flags at half-staff in memory of Karcher.
In February 2009, CKE Restaurants announced that Texas would be their top growth market for the next five years. Franchisee deals were made with two companies to open Carl's Jr. locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston markets. The franchisees plan to open 193 new restaurants in Texas over the next 10 years. Carl's Jr. had initially expanded into Texas in 1984, but due to the poor state economy most locations never met sales expectations. By 1987, Carl's Jr. had temporarily pulled out of Texas entirely closing approximately 36 locations. Another attempt to bring the chain to Texas occurred in the 1990s.
January 12, 2010 CKE announced deal to expand into the Houston metropolitan area, with the first two locations opening along Highway 6 on the west side.
In several Western U.S. locations, Carl's Jr. parent CKE has begun operating co-branded restaurants with its Green Burrito group. This is a similar strategy used by Yum! Brands with its KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, A&W Restaurants, and Long John Silver's concepts to help expand brands without the additional expense of new buildings and land.
Taco de Carlos was a fast-food Mexican restaurant chain that spun off from Carl's Jr. In 1972 Carl Karcher Enterprises decided to get in on the Mexican fast-food business because it was a new phenomenon that was proving successful with Taco Bell going public just a few years earlier. Taco de Carlos offered menu items not found on Taco Bell, like the California Burrito, with the green chili, and the Machaca Burrito. It also served up the standard Carl's Jr. burgers. Some of the Taco de Carlos locations opened next door to a Carl's Jr. By the end of the 1970s Taco de Carlos had 17 locations. Carl Karcher Enterprises could never muster up enough business attention for Taco de Carlos, and the taco chain found itself in financial distress. Meanwhile, the bigger names like Taco Bell, Del Taco, Naugles, and Pup-n-Taco were enjoying success. In the early 1980s Carl Karcher Enterprises sold off most of its Taco de Carlos locations to Del Taco, and the rest to other buyers. In 1988, after strengthening the Carl's Jr. brand, they decided to try their luck again with fast-food Mexican fare, Italian fare, and even some locations began a trial run of more gourmet products including but not limited to restaurants in the local areas. Most restaurants broke off of Carl's Jr. and struck up a co-branding deal with Green Burrito.
When Carl's Jr. first started rebranding Hardee's locations to the Carl's Jr. livery in 1999, both chains mostly kept separate ads. This changed with the now-infamous Paris Hilton ad (see below), which aired as either for Carl's Jr. or Hardee's, depending on where the ads aired. This would continue with other ads for the next several years. including ads by Kate Upton, Kim Kardashian, Sara Sampaio, Emily Ratajkowski, Sara Jean Underwood, Hannah Ferguson, Heidi Klum and Padma Lakshmi.
With the two chains now selling many common menu items by 2013, Carl's Jr. began to advertise nationally in conjunction with Hardee's for products that both chains sell, with much of that coming during WWE programming. Carl's Jr. takes precedence in the ads for lunch & dinner menu items, while Hardee's takes precedence for breakfast items. Some of the items sold by both chains are branded as Thickburgers, even though they are different burgers.
Paris Hilton campaign
In May 2005, Carl's Jr. introduced its "Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger" in a television advertisement created by Mendelsohn Zien Advertising, which features Paris Hilton in a provocative swimsuit soaping up a Bentley automobile and crawling all over it before taking a big bite out of her burger and giving her signature phrase, "That's hot."
Terrell Owens campaign
In December 2013, Carl's Jr. used flamboyant former NFL player, Terrell Owens, to promote its Philly Cheesesteak Burger.
All Natural campaign
In January 2015, Carl's Jr. released a commercial online featuring model Charlotte McKinney advertising its new All Natural Burger to air regionally during Super Bowl XLIX. The ad features McKinney walking around in a farmers' market, with it implied that she is "all natural" and uses double entendres to imply that she is naked with strategically-placed items in the market, until it reveals McKinney in a bikini eating the All Natural Burger. Critics suggest that the ad "sets feminism back four decades," while others including McKinney's elderly grandfather enjoyed the ad. The ad did feature Hardee's cobranding since the All Natural Burger is being offered by Hardee's.
Carl's Jr. also featured Los Angeles rock band RapScallions performing their song "Can You Feel It" with their fan's eating the All Natural Burger in the "Carl's Jr. Music Cam" campaign that aired on CBS Los Angeles and KCAL.
In June 2011, the restaurant chain opened its first Canadian location in Kelowna, British Columbia. Since then, in has opened other locations in Metro Vancouver, I Edmonton, Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario  Due to a trademark dispute with the Canadian fast food chain Harvey's, CKE Restaurants cannot use the Hardee's name, but instead is permitted to open Carl's Jr. stores throughout the rest of Canada.
Carl's Jr. opened its first branch in Delhi-NCR on August 8, 2015. It re-entered the Thailand market in 2012 after withdrawing a decade earlier. It also has locations in Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Turkey.
As of December 2012, Carl's Jr. has 9 locations in 6 cities of Ecuador. The franchise is managed by Grupo El Rosado. It opened its first restaurants in Mexico in 1992. it also has locations in Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama. and Costa Rica .
Since opening their first Russian restaurant in 2006, Carl's Jr. has launched and continues to operate at least 28 locations in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Kaliningrad, Saratov and Nizhnevartovsk, with plans to further expand in the Russian market.
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