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about us

Our Story

It all started back in the 1960s when Wilbur Hardee opened the first Hardee’s in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and offered customers charbroiled hamburgers, fast service and drive-thru window.Since then, Hardee’s gained immediate popularity and the chain grew rapidly.

By the end of the decade, there were nearly 200 Hardee’s restaurants, including international locations such as Heidelberg, Germany.Our history in the Middle East and North Africa region goes back to 1981 when Americana Group opened the first Hardee’s outlet in Kuwait, and from there we’ve been growing year after year.

Today, Hardee’s ® and it’s sister brand Carl’s JR ® operate over 3700 restaurants in over 40 countries around the world with nearly 330 restaurants in the Middle Eastern and African region.

Wilber Hardee Story and the origins of iconic Hardees Hamburger restaurants

Wilber Hardee, a farm boy turned grill cook who went on to open the first Hardee's hamburger stand in 1960, starting a chain that now has nearly 2,000 restaurants in the United States and overseas. But success didn't come easily.

Born in Martin County, in North Carolina, on Aug. 15, 1918, Mr. Hardee was one of five children of Henry and Mary Hardee. Not interested in the family corn and tobacco farm, the young Hardee got a job as a grill cook at a local eatery. In World War II, he was a Navy cook in the Pacific. While home on furlough in 1945, he married Kathryn Roebuck.

After World War II, Mr. Hardee returned to Greenville and with the passion for cooking he opened a restaurant; he and his wife lived in the back. By 1960, when he opened his first hamburger stand,

Hardee’s first restaurant was opened on September 3, 1960, in Greenville, North Carolina. When it became successful, Wilber decided to look into expanding his restaurant and opening another location. With this plan, he met with his friends James Gardner and Leonard Rawls to discuss what he wanted to happen. in 1961. They opened a second Hardee’s, in Rocky Mount, N.C. But difficulties with his partners soon led him to sell his share.

In 1963, Hardee’s Food Systems went public and Rawls stood as its president and Gardner as the vice president. However, Gardner had political ambitions and left the company. In 1964, Hardee’s started adding more meals and combos to its menu, included a hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, and many more. Hardee’s Big Deluxe Burger was famous and served throughout the ‘90s

By the end of the 1960s, in just a span of 10 years Hardee’s nearly had 200 restaurants. It also has its first international locations in Germany. Around the same time, In 1981, Hardee’s was bought by Imasco Limited which is a Canadian company. Imasco converted a lot of locations into Hardee’s restaurants but due to cost and change in burger recipe, it couldn’t sustain.

In April 1997, CKE Restaurant Holdings purchased Hardee’s from Imasco for $327 million. After this, there was no stopping, more than three thousand Hardee’s outlets that were opened in 40 states and 10 foreign countries.

In the Present time, Hardee’s chain restaurant is more than 1,810 in the United States alone, in 2015 Hardee’s opened its 300th restaurant in the middle east and soon planning to open its outlet in other countries.