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Which famous west coast burger chain is finally coming to Florida?

Another big west-coast fast food chain is about to make its way to Florida for the first time.

Carl’s Jr. is coming to South Florida in late 2023, the parent company CKE Restaurants, Inc. announced, with more Florida locations planned. After over 75 years in business, that will be the first Carl’s Jr. in Florida or, for that matter, east of the Mississippi River.

Here’s what you need to know.

Where will the first Carl’s Jr. in Florida be?

Get ready for your Carl's Jr. order, Florida.

The first location, scheduled to break ground this summer and open by the end of the year, will be in Doral.

Will there be more Carl’s Jr. locations in Florida?

According to the release, CKE Restaurants has partnered with RSMG Holding LLC and Retail & Food International Brand to bring more Carl’s Jrs to the Sunshine State and “are actively searching for new real estate partners with drive thru capabilities and working to develop 35 Carl’s Jr. locations across the South Florida region.”

“Carl’s Jr. is known for serving impossible to ignore flavors, so we are excited to bring our iconic brand to South Florida where audacious is a lifestyle and we’re sure to fit in,” said Chris Bode, chief operating officer of CKE Restaurants. “South Florida is an important part of our growth strategy and we’re thrilled to welcome the South Florida community to experience our fan-favorite, authentically crafted menu items whenever the craving hits.” 

How many locations does Carl’s Jr. have?

A Carl's Jr. in Arizona is experimenting with AI ordering.

More than 1,100 across 35 countries, including 300-plus restaurants in Mexico, according to the release.

What is Carl’s Jr. famous for?

Carl’s Jr. (and corporate sibling Hardee’s) are best known for their all-beef charbroiled burgers.

Large with bold flavors, the burgers demand attention and both hands. Fans like the Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger, a double cheeseburger with American cheese, onion rings, BBQ sauce and, of course, bacon, but the Famous Star with Cheese (all-beef patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, special sauce and mayo) is a classic for a reason. The chain regularly brings out limited-time offers such as the summer’s El Diablo Angus, 1/3 pound of Angus beef, bacon, jalapeno poppers, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos and habanero ranch sauce, on a potato bun. And their hand-breaded chicken tenders are a perennial favorite.

Carl’s Jr. is also known for its waffle fries (similar to Chick-fil-A’s but crispier), fried zucchini, jalapeno poppers and hand-scooped ice cream shakes. And unlike other fast-food places, Carl’s Jr. offers a burger or grilled cheese option with the rest of its breakfast combos.

Isn’t Carl’s Jr. the same as Hardees?

Same yellow star, same red and white lettering, but Hardee's isn't (quite) the same as Carl's Jr.

Technically they are separate chains, but it can be hard to tell.

Hardee’s locations are in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. In 1997 Carl’s Jr.’s parent company CKE Restaurants, which also owns the Green Burrito and Red Burrito restaurants, bought Hardee’s for $327 million. They kept the name and some of their unique menu items but gradually the two chains began sharing the same branding, logo, burgers and advertising.

How did Carl’s Jr. get started?

In 1941, Los Angeles truck driver Carl Karcher and his wife, Margaret, dug out their last $15, took out a loan against their car for a few hundred more, and bought a pushcart hot dog stand. It did well enough for the Karchers to expand into more, and then a sit-down restaurant that also served hamburgers, Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue.

The fast food chain spun off from that and spread across the West and Southwest. Franchise Times listed it as #59 in their 2022 ranking of the Top 500 Largest Franchises.

‘Upsells better than a human’:Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s partnering with AI companies to automate drive-thrus

Who is Carl’s Jr.?

There is no Carl Karcher Jr., although founder Carl Karcher and his wife Margaret did have 12 children with one named Carl.

In 1956, Karcher decided to open a couple of express versions of his restaurant and called them Carl’s Jr. to denote them as smaller and faster, and that’s the name that stuck when the chain began to expand.

What’s up with the Carl’s Jr. commercials?

Carl’s Jr.’s new “Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger was launched in May 2005 with a surprisingly provocative commercial featuring Paris Hilton in a swimsuit, covered in suds, washing a sports car and somehow sexily eating a burger. “That’s hot,” she tells us.

The commercial went viral online, parent advocacy groups accused it of being misogynistic soft-core porn and Carl’s Jr. continued to use models in their ads such as Heidi KlumKim Kardashian and Kate UptonIn 2015, in one of the raciest Super Bowl ads ever, which is saying something, model Charlotte McKinney seemingly walks naked through a farmers’ market blocked by strategic fruits and vegetables to promote Carl’s Jr. new “All Natural Burger.” Nine years after the first one, Paris Hilton came back to wash a muddy truck with Sports Illustrated model Hannah Ferguson (and chow down on a Texas BBQ Thickburger).

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s shared the ads, with different brands showing up depending on where in the country they were viewed. But in 2017 the company decided to pull back on its risque advertising with a new ad showing the fictional “Carl Sr.” showing up to kick his playboy son “Carl Jr.” out of the corporate office — covered in posters of sexy women from their previous ads — and make some changes. The restaurants also temporarily lost the happy face in the middle of the famous yellow star and replaced the red and white lettering with black.

The move was in response to the rise of burger joints such as Five Guys, Steak ‘n Shake and In-N-Out which emphasized taste, something former CEO Andy Puzder saids Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s has always had, but not fully promoted.

“The old campaign got a lot of attention, got people in to see the really delicious burger,” Puzder told USA TODAY in a phone interview. But “I think we had to more directly and convincingly” talk about food quality he said.

Does Carl’s Jr. have a secret menu?

Sort of.

Some diners have been able to order a Carl’s Jr. Chicken Stuffed Super Star Burger, a burger with a chicken filet added, but it doesn’t work everywhere.

You can order a “Low Carb” version of any burger and they’ll wrap it in lettuce instead of a bun. And if you ask for the “healthy option” for your combo, your fries and soda will be replaced with salad and water.