North Carolina-Hardee’s-February 5

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-February 5

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

When I was a student at East Carolina University in Greenville NC I had to walk down 14th Street many times on my way to Minges Coliseum located just off Charles St.

That walk took me past a North Carolina and restaurant landmark. On September 3, 1960, Wilbur Hardee opened a new restaurant, a drive-in, on the busy corner of 14th and Charles Streets.

That restaurant was called Hardee’s.

first hardees

The very first Hardee’s had no tables, no waiters and only a few items on the menu. But, the drive-thru restaurant was an immediate success. The main attraction was a 15-cent fresh-ground, lean beef burger that was made to order on a custom-build charcoal broiler.

The successful business model of Hardee’s soon attracted interested partners. Jim Gardner and Leonard Rawls made the trip across the state to meet with Hardee and discuss plans for expansion. The trio soon formed a partnership and opened the first Hardee’s franchise restaurant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina on May 5, 1961.

Wilbur Hardee eventually severed ties with his partners, who quickly turned the Hardee’s name into one of the most recognized restaurants in the nation.

First corporate logo of Hardee’s from 1960-1971


The company went public in 1963, expanded rapidly with over 1,900 locations across the Midwest and Southeast today, as well as over 200 international locations, mainly in the Middle East. The Hardee’s corporate offices remained in Rocky Mount until 2001, when parent company CKE moved Hardee’s headquarters to its present location in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

Wilbur Hardee died in 2008.




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