Carl’s Jr. is a quick-service burger chain operating mostly in California and other Western states, although its headquarters were moved to the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tenn., in 2017 as parent company CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc. consolidated the headquarters of sister brands Hardee’s in St. Louis and Carl’s Jr. in Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Though once known for its racy ads depicting scantily clad women on cars with the chain’s burgers and other products, Carl’s has changed its marketing since the departure of CEO Andy Puzder in 2017.
Carl’s Jr. was founded in 1956 by Carl Karcher, so-named because it was a smaller version of his full-service restaurant, Carl’s Drive-in Barbecue, with the opening of two locations in Anaheim and Brea, Calif.
It became the sister chain of Hardee’s Restaurants in 1997 when CKE bought that chain. Since then CKE has alternated strategies between unifying the two brands and keeping them separate, highlighting their regional differences. As of 2021 CKE is keeping them separate, although they have one corporate chef and many of their limited-time offers are the same.
Headquarters: Franklin, Tenn.
Segment: Quick Service
Restaurant Segment: LSR Burger
Number of U.S. Locations: 1,079
2020 Sales: $1.33 billion
Source: Datassential Firefly 500
CEO: Ned Lyerly
Parent Group: CKE Restaurant Holdings Inc.