For the last 20 years, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have been a bicoastal couple sharing a checking account. Both fast food chains have virtually identical menus, though Carl’s Jr. resides on the West Coast and Southwest, and Hardee’s in the Midwest and along the Atlantic seaboard. Mental Floss offers some helpful context as to how this came to be; essentially, Carl’s Jr. bought Hardee’s in 1997 but didn’t want to change the name, for fear of alienating loyal customers.
But after a few decades of matrimony, the separation between the two has begun. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that the two brands will splinter off, each with its own menu items and marketing approach (Hardee’s is more homespun and country, while Carl’s Jr. is the brasher, dude-facing brand—you may remember its infamous Paris Hilton commercial in 2005).
To be clear, the two restaurant chains aren’t going through a divorce—they’re still owned by the same parent company, CKE Restaurant Holdings. So it’s probably still advantageous to stay wed, if only for tax purposes.
Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.