I grew up in California and have lived pretty much all my life there. The Carl’s Jr. burger chain, itself born in Southern California, has always been a cultural fixture for me in the western United States. Knowing that they didn’t have Carl’s back east was one of those sad little things about moving to Florida that I was going to have to get used to.
Driving down I-10 in the middle of the South somewhere, though, I started seeing a familiar logo on the Gas-Food-Lodging signs. Perhaps fatigue from the long drive had made me hallucinate? But no, I got a good up-close look at one next to a gas station in northern Florida:
Well, a quick peek through the company history pages indicates that Carl Karcher Enterprises bought out the Hardee’s chain in the 1990s, and started rebranding it in the 2000s with the “new look” (apparently the Carl’s logo) and new menu items. It’s kind of… creepy nonetheless. I guess they didn’t want to lose local brand recognition by changing the name, but adopting a different logo seems kind of weird.
Combining the maps from the store locators, it seems there’s no territorial overlap between the Carl’s and Hardee’s chains:
Only Oklahoma has both; there’s one Hardee’s way out East, but it’s miles away from the nearest Carl’s. Both chains are missing in the Northeast, which is probably why I haven’t stumbled on any Hardee’s back east before…
Looks like there is a Hardee’s in town here in St. Pete, I’ll have to track it down and see if the inside is as eerily familiar as the outside.