In 1997, having contracted to fewer than 2000 locations, the Hardee's chain was acquired by CKE
Restaurants, the parent company of the Carl's Jr. fast-food restaurant chain. (Imasco retained the few
remaining Roy Rogers locations until 2003, at which time the trademark and franchise system were
reportedly purchased by Frederick, Maryland-based Plamondon Enterprises.)
Over time, some
Hardee's restaurants were simply converted to serve products available from Carl's Jr., and also took on
the Carl's Jr. star logo in the process. Some locations were simply fully rebrandedCarl's Jr. - that was a
year after Wendy's and Tim Horton purchased most of the Hardee's stores in Michigan. The name
"charbroiling," but neither the actual process (no rocks) nor the original two signature burgers made by
charbroiling, was reintroduced in 2001 with the addition of a Thick burger menu.
Hardee's moved its headquarters from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to downtown St. Louis, Missouri, in
CKE Restaurants has been dual branding some Hardee's locations with Red Burrito, similar to its Green
Burrito/Carl's Jr. Dual brand concept. This is a similar strategy used by Yum! Brands with its KFC, Pizza
Hut, Taco Bell, A&W Restaurants and Long John Silvers concepts to help expand brands without the
additional expense of new buildings and land.
Hardee's has found a niche market in smaller towns that may lack franchises of the other major
hamburger chains. Hardee's closed its restaurants in Hong Kong on December 27, 2006,
problems with franchising rights.
On March 12, 2007, the first-ever franchised Hardee's restaurant (located in Rocky Mount, North
Carolina) was demolished to make room for a veterans memorial park named after Jack Laughery, a
former Hardee's executive and U.S. Army veteran.
As of the fiscal year ended January 25, 2010, CKE Restaurants, Inc., through its subsidiaries, had a total
of 3,141 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 42 states and in 14 countries, including 1,905
Hardee's restaurants and 1,224 Carl's Jr. Restaurants. Hardee's recently opened another branch in
Pakistan. In May 2011, Hardee's opened a branch in Alma-Ata, Almaty, Kazakhstan, at the TOO Mega
Center Alma-Ata, with another store opening in the same city just weeks after. Although the stores are
named Hardee's, they serve the Carl's Jr. Menu. There is also a Hardee's branch in Muscat, Oman.
In January 2007, Hardee's had a challenge filed against it with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office
by River West Brands, LLC of Chicago for the use of the Burger Chef Trademark and name. Shortly
thereafter, Hardee's reissued the Burger Chef Big Chef sandwich in Terre Haute, Indiana, as a trial
offering and later in other Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri markets for a limited time. The reissue of the Big
Shef has also utilized the Burger Chef name and logo in advertisements in the markets in which it is
offered, and the claim was to provide Burger Chef fans with their Big Shef "fix". On April 16, 2009, River
West Brands dropped their petition for cancellation and both parties agreed to pay their own attorney’s
In the early days of the take-over by CKE, Hardee's began to use the anthropomorphic smiling star logo
that Carl's Jr. had used for many years. "The Hardee's Star", as it was now called, appeared in a series of
commercials played by a dwarf in a costume likeness of the star. Norm Macdonald provided the voice for
the Hardee's Star. For a time, many Hardee's locations even gave out free antenna toppers in the shape
of the recently adopted star. The star remains Hardee's logo, but the mascot ceased appearing in the
commercials with the advent of the Thickburger campaign. A new Hardee's logo was unveiled in 2006
that featured script lettering and further minimized the smiling star icon.