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Hardee's is a quick-service restaurant franchise that is widely known for its charbroiled burgers, in addition to offering a variety of other American cuisine options. The chain operates as a subsidiary of CKE Restaurants alongside sister brand Carl's Jr. as well as concepts Green Burrito and Red Burrito. In the face of competition, Hardee's differentiated from other brands in its category by being the first to incorporate all-natural, free-range beef into its menu, which in turn attracted customers that were interested in making healthier choices.

Facts & Figures

Liquid capital required
Net worth required
$1,530,000 - $1,995,000
Franchise fee
$15,000 - $25,000
3.5% - 4.0%
Units in operation
Franchising Since


Hardee's Franchise Formats Offered

The Hardee's system offers three franchise formats for potential owners: 

Hardee's: Allows for the development and operation of a "Hardee's Restaurant" quick service restaurant franchise.

Dual Concept: Allows for the development and operation of a Dual Concept quick service restaurant franchise under the "Hardee's" and "Red Burrito" names, featuring the same menu as a standalone Hardee's as well a menu of Mexican food products. There are restrictions on who can qualify for a Dual Concept franchise agreement.

Co-Brand Location: Allows for the development of a Hardee's or Dual Concept franchise that is attached to a gasoline station, truck stop, and/or a convenience store operation.

Hardee's Franchise Opportunities - History

Wilber Hardee founded the first Hardee's restaurant in North Carolina in 1961. After a successful first year, Wilber began seeking help for expansion and soon formed a partnership with two other men, James Gardner and Leonard Rawls. 

After opening a handful of additional locations, Wilber's partners took complete control of the company and began franchising the concept. This, in turn, led to the opening of hundreds more Hardee's restaurants. By the late 1960's, the chain had grown to over 200 locations throughout the Midwest and Southwestern United States. That same year, it became an international operating corporation, with its first locations outside of the United States being in Germany. 

CKE, the parent company of Carl's Jr., purchased Hardee's in 1997 and merged the two restaurants. Hardee's now has approximately 2,200 units, 95% of which are owned by franchisees.

Hardee's Franchise Cost / Initial Investment / Hardee's Franchise Income

Initial Investment & Franchise Fees

Franchisees interested in owning a Hardee's franchise can expect to invest approximately $1.5 million to $2 million to open their restaurant. Franchisees interested in the Dual Concept Hardee's format will need to invest approximately $1.6 million to $2 million to build and open this concept. And franchisees seeking to convert an existing Hardee's Restaurant into a Dual Concept format should expect to invest approximately $36,800 to $67,800.  All investment estimates are exclusive of any rent or real estate related costs.

To qualify for a Hardee's franchise, you should be able to demonstrate $300,000 in liquid assets and a minimum net worth of $1,000,000.

Franchise Fees

These investment ranges are inclusive of any initial franchise fees, which are generally $35,000 for a Hardee's Restaurant format (which may be reduced depending on number of restaurants to be opened), $35,000 for the Hardee's portion of the franchise fee for a Dual Concept Hardee's / Red Burrito format (which may be reduced under multi-unit agreements), and $12,500 for the Red Burrito portion of the Dual Concept franchise fee (which may be reduced under multi-unit agreements).

Royalties and Advertising Program Contributions

For newly-developed Hardee's or Dual Concept locations, franchisees must pay a royalty of 3.5% of monthly gross sales for the first 5 years of their operation and 4% of Gross Sales for the balance of the initial franchise term.

In addition, franchisees must participate in an advertising and promotional obligation of up to 7% of monthly gross sales (currently set at 5.5%), a national advertising fund of 4.25% of monthly gross sales, and (if applicable) a regional co-op program of at least 0.5% of monthly gross sales. This is in addition to other ongoing fees and expenses.

Hardee's Franchise System Size and Composition

As of year-end 2018, there were approximately 2,242 units in the Hardee's franchise system, including 118 corporate-owned restaurants, 1,739 U.S.-based franchised restaurants, and 385 international franchised locations. Systemwide, Hardee's locations generate approximately $2.5 billion in annual sales.


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