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Carl's Jr.
Type Wholly owned subsidiary
Founded 1941
Headquarters Anaheim, California, U.S.
Key people Carl Karcher, Founder
Industry Fast food
Products Fast food (including hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes)
Parent CKE Restaurants

Carl's Jr. is an American fast-food restaurant chain, located mostly in the Western United States and West Coast regions. It is also in the process of expanding into Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Russia, Vietnam, and China. It was founded in 1941 by Carl N. Karcher, and is owned by CKE Restaurants, Inc. Along with its sibling restaurant chain Hardee's, Carl's Jr. is the #4 US QSR burger chain in size after McDonald's (31,000+ locations),[1][2] Burger King (11,500+ locations)[3] and Wendy's (6700+ locations).[4]


Company profile


Carl Karcher got his start in the food industry in 1941 by owning several food stands in Los Angeles, California, most notably on the corner of Florence and Central in South L.A. By 1945, Karcher owned a stand-alone restaurant in Anaheim, California called Carl's Drive-In Barbecue. In 1956, Karcher opened the first two Carl's Jr. restaurants in Anaheim, California and Brea, California; so named because they were a smaller version of his drive-in restaurant. The restaurant chain was characterized by its fast service 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.[5]

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 ousting 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. Among its famous figures, NBA great Dennis Rodman was also featured in a famous ad in which one of his tattoos is seen eating a burger. Karcher admitted he was heartbroken by the new campaign which contrasted starkly with his conservative views.

Carl's Jr. quickly expanded, and currently has more than 1,000 locations in 13 U.S. states, as well as in Mexico, Singapore and Russia. 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. 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 of 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, Southeast 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. The chain has also 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 carries the branding Carl's Jr.

In 2002, CKE Restaurants, Inc. acquired Santa Barbara Restaurant Group (the parent company of the Green Burrito brand). Some Carl's Jr. 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.[6]

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. eventually expanded into American Samoa, alongside fellow competitors McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut and Checkers.

A new Carl's Jr. in Denton, Texas

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.

CKE Restaurants has announced that Carl's Jr. will be expanded up to about 19 Western U.S. states, which marks the chain to operate 4,000 restaurants by the end of 2008.

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.[7] Carl's Jr. had previously expanded into Texas in 1984, but due to the poor state economy most locations never met sales expectations. By 1987, Carl's Jr. pulled out of Texas entirely closing approximately 36 locations.[8] The first restaurant under the new franchisee agreements opened in Denton, Texas on August 12, 2009.[9]


Carl's Jr and Green Burrito restaurant in Bell, California

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 Silvers concepts to help expand brands without the additional expense of new buildings and land.[10]

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, and that was about it. 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, and struck up a co-branding deal with Green Burrito.[11][12]


Paris Hilton campaign

In May 2005, Carl's Jr. introduced its "Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger" in a television advertisement, which features Hilton Hotel heiress Paris Hilton in a provocative swimsuit soaping up a Bentley automobile and crawling all over it before taking a big bite out of the burger and giving her signature phrase, "That's hot."[13]

In addition to featuring the ad on their web site, Carl's Jr. also built a separate web site to play a longer version of the commercial. In an unusual move, this site also includes a web-released parody of the official ad, created for California-based recruiting firm Accolo. Their parody is a shot for shot copy featuring a large, hairy male model in place of Paris Hilton with the tagline "Hiring the Right Person Makes All the Difference."[14] The parody generated tremendous interest and was even featured in reports on media networks such as CNN and MSNBC covering both the Carl's Jr. campaign and viral marketing in general.

A similar Hardee's ad with Paris Hilton aired in June 2005.

Flat Buns campaign

In mid-August 2007, Carl's Jr. introduced its "Patty Melt Sandwich" in a television ad. The advertisement, parodying Sir Mix a Lot's "Baby Got Back",[15] began with a teacher explaining how it was once believed the world was flat. And there are two young white males and they start rapping about "flat buns", as the commercial was advertising how the Patty Melt Sandwich was on "flat buns". However the rappers are talking about the teacher's bottom when they are referring to "flat buns". The lyrics in their rap contain somewhat sexual lyrics, and there is a glimpse of a butt drawn on a blackboard right before one of the rappers erases half of it to make it "flat". The teacher character in the commercial that was a source of concern for educators was edited out of the ad. Coincidentally, Burger King ran a similar advertising campaign in April 2009, featuring the actual Sir Mix-a-Lot performing a modified version of "Baby Got Back" with the line "I like square butts" substituted for “I like big butts". The ad is a promotion for the BK kid’s meal which includes a SpongeBob SquarePants toy.[16]

Fake Restaurant campaign

In 2008, Carl's Jr. introduced its "Fake Restaurant" ad campaign.[17] By using actors and props, Carl's Jr. created a formal gourmet burger restaurant to demonstrate—via supposedly hidden cameras—people enjoying the burgers and the fact they will happily pay $14–16 for a Carl's Jr. Six Dollar Burger, which actually is priced at only around $3.99 plus tax.

SLOTCAR campaign

On February 7, 2009, Carl's Jr. introduced "SLOTCAR",[18] an online weekly series of viral videos that are a spoof of the NASCAR circuit except instead of actual stock cars, the race track action takes place with 1/32 scale slotcars. The series was produced by Animax Unplugged and the videos are syndicated to Funny or Die, YouTube, Streetfire and other online sites.

List Of Youtube Carls Jr Portobello Mushroom $6 Burger commercials:

Global locations

Map showing the states with CKE restaurants. States with Carl's Jr. are in yellow, Hardee's in red, states with both in orange, and states with neither gray.
States currently with Carl's Jr. :

Current Countries with Carl's Jr.

See also


  1. ^ "CKE Restaurants, Inc.wastetimechasingcars is the best. go shutter shades". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  2. ^ "McDonald's Corporation".'s/--ID__10974--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Burger King Holdings, Inc.". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  4. ^ "Wendy's International, Inc.".'s/--ID__11621--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  5. ^ Schlosser, Eric (2001). Fast Food Nation. HarperCollins. 
  6. ^ "Fast Food and Beer". Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  7. ^ "Carl's Jr. set to multiply in Dallas-Fort Worth". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  8. ^ "CKE Restaurants". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  9. ^ (2009-06-14). "Carl’s Jr. to make foray into Denton". Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  10. ^ "YUM! Brands, Inc.".!/--ID__53993--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml. Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  11. ^ Steve Johnson (2007-12-18). "Taco de Carlos, History of". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  12. ^ ChristianZ (2006-02-18). "Taco de Carlos, RIP". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  13. ^ Carl's Jr. Unapologetic over Spicy Burger commercial
  14. ^ "The Story of 'Rethink Recruiting'". 
  15. ^ » Hot for Flat Buns: Phony Outrage and the Death of Satire – Blogger News Network
  16. ^ Carl’s Jr. expels gyrating blond teacher from commercial – Fast Food Maven –
  17. ^ Fake Restaurant — Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s
  18. ^ launches
  19. ^ PRNewswire-FirstCall (2007-07-07). "First Carl's Jr Restaurant Opens in Pago Pago, AS". Retrieved 2007-07-07. 

External links

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