Carl's Jr. Restaurants

United States of America
Quick facts
Year business began:
Franchising since:
Estimated number of units:
Carl’s Jr. Restaurants have grown the reputation as America’s premier burger chain. It all began in 1941 when Carl N. Karcher and his wife Margaret got a loan of $331 and used their entire savings worth $15 to buy a hot dog cart. From here it began to grow. From one cart, suddenly they had four and in less than five years they had established their first Carl’s Drive in Barbeque. By the 1950s the brand Carl’s Jr. was being developed named so because it was smaller than the drive in. In the 1960s, they became the first quick service restaurant to provide table service. In the 1990s, they were expanding their business further and exploring new possibilities. They invested in dual branding alongside the brand Green Burrito, and today there are 300 locations where the two brands stand together across the world.

The Franchise System

Carl’s Jr Restaurants is a wholly owned subsidiary of CKE restaurants. CKE franchises and operates Carl’s Jr. Franchising is crucial to CKE restaurants. They treat it as a priority and believe franchisees need to have the proper training and ability to perform the role properly. For these reasons, CKE do look for some previous franchise experience or restaurant experience when they are allocating franchises. It is run as a multi-unit development with a three restaurant minimum. The term of the franchise agreement is 20 years.

However, while they have conditions, CKE offers a brilliant platform for any franchise. Franchisees can take advantage of a wide range of real estate sites as well as low operating costs. CKE support franchises by assisting them with site selection, restaurant design, equipment and construction as well as offering field support, operations support and training even after the restaurant has opened.

The franchisee or new manager has to undergo 12 weeks of training before the launch of the new franchise. But training and support does not finish here. Business consultants offer advice on day to day running. Qualified employees are involved with research and development to look for improvements to the business. A marketing team is available to assist with advertising campaigns and local marketing.

Corporate Social Responsibility

CKE restaurants repositioned Carl’s Jr. as a green company. Surprisingly for a fast food chain, green restaurants were established. These eco-friendly restaurants included solar panelling, LED lighting, rainwater re-usage systems to try and make a difference to the environment and reduce consumption of water and energy. The company went on to implement paperless communication as well as recycling initiatives.

CKE also recognises how much Carl’s Jr. can influence community life. They are committed to helping the community anyway that they can, be it through voluntary programs for the youth or raising money for disadvantaged families.

Over the years, Carl’s Jr Restaurants has gotten involved in various causes. In 2006, the company donated $300,000 to Breast Cancer. In 2009, in honour of the founders, the company offered $60,000 worth of scholarships for young people to further their education. This founder’s scholarship was first created in 1999 and continues today.


Carl’s Jr. Restaurants was known for its attention grabbing advertisements that were sometimes controversial. However the company’s image underwent rebranding. There is redesigned packaging, employee uniforms and a new logo and slogan. Their marketing strategy will now be focused on food innovation.


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