Carl’s Jr.

July 10, 2021

At Carl’s Jr. you’re into something good.

Carl’s Jr. 1,078 U.S. Store Locations

From a truck driver to an entrepreneur…
On July 17, 1941, Carl and Margaret Karcher purchased a hot dog cart for $326. They had $15 cash and borrowed $311 using their 1941 Plymouth Super Deluxe as collateral. Carl gave up his job as a truck driver and, with their hot dog cart parked at the corner of Florence and Central in Los Angeles, they started their business and made $14.75 on their first day. Their menu included hot dogs, chili dogs, and tamales for a dime, and soda for a nickel.

Within a few years, Carl and Margaret owned and operated four hot dog stands in Los Angeles. Business was good! In 1945 Carl opened Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue in Anaheim, California, their first full-service restaurant. In 1946, hamburgers were added to the menu.

Carl’s Jr. Drve-In Barbecue, 1945

A little bit about the founder…
Carl N. Karcher was born on January 16, 1917, in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. When he was in the eighth grade, he had to leave school to help his parents on the farm.

As a young man, Carl left Ohio to work at his uncle’s feed store in Anaheim, California. No stranger to hard work, Carl put in 12 hours a day, six days a week. In 1939, Carl went to work as a bread wrapper at Armstrong Bakery in Los Angeles. He was quickly promoted to a sales and delivery position.

In 1939, Carl married Margaret Heinz. Their enduring love kept them together in a marriage that lasted for more than 66 years. They had 12 children, 51 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren. 

In 1956, Karcher opened the first two Carl’s Jr. restaurants. So how did “Jr.” become part of the name? Well, they were a smaller version of Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue. Makes sense! By the end of the 1950s, there were four Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Orange County, California, all supervised by Carl’s younger brother, Donald. Donald later became the company’s president.

By the 1960s, Carl was operating 24 restaurants in Southern California and by 1975, there were more than 100 Carl’s Jr. locations in Southern California. In 1980, the company hired its 10,000th employee. By the end of the 1970s, sales were over the $100 million mark. By the end of the 1980s, sales topped $480 million at 534 restaurants. Today, there are 1,078 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the United States, and franchisees in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Canada, Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe. Carl’s Jr. restaurants are now operated by CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc.,

Margaret Katcher passed away in 2006, and Carl passed in 2008, leaving a legacy that continues to grow around the world.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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