Paul Byrne

Digital Film Colorist

Carls Jr – The Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger

Carls Jr

Paul Byrne | Digital Film Colorist

Carls Jr – The Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger Has it All

Built on two of the brands’ world-famous charbroiled beef patties.  Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger features five jalapeño coins, two slices of Pepper Jack cheese.  A swirl of Santa Fe Sauce, lettuce and tomato on a soft, classic-style bun. But The Hardee’s burger packs all the same spicy punch. In most quick-service restaurant chains’ value burgers, there is no flavour. But our Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger packs a flavorful punch. With its spicy combination of Jalapeños and Santa Fe Sauce. Says Jason Marker, the chief executive officer for Carls Jr. and Harde

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Los Angeles, 1941. Young Carl N. Karcher and his wife, Margaret, make a leap of faith and borrow $311 on their Plymouth automobile, add $15 in savings and purchase a hot dog cart. One cart grows to four, and in less than five years, Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue opens with hamburgers on the menu. The brand continues its growth with an emphasis on quality, service and cleanliness, pioneering concepts such as partial table service and self-serve beverage bars. The introduction of the signature Six Dollar Burger™ in 2001 marks the latest Carl’s Jr.® advance in the quick-service industry, confirming the chain’s constant emphasis on product innovation and representing a desire to satisfy the tastes of young, hungry consumers. On his first day in the fast-food business, Carl N. Karcher took in $14.75. For 70 years and over 1,200 restaurants later, Carl’s Jr.® has become known as the place to go all across the West for juicy, delicious charbroiled burgers.

The 1940s

In 1941, Carl Karcher and his wife, Margaret Karcher (née. Heinz), borrowed $311 on their Plymouth automobile and added $15 in savings to purchase a hot dog cart on the corner of Florence and Central in Los Angeles. From their newly purchased cart, they sold hot dogs, chilli 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. In 1945, the Karchers moved the short distance to Anaheim, California, and opened their first full-service restaurant, Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue at 1108 N. Palm St. (now Harbor).[5][6] A year later, hamburgers were added to the menu for the first time.

The 1950s

In 1956, Karcher opened the first two Carl’s Jr. restaurants – so named because they were a smaller version of Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue restaurant – in Anaheim and Brea.[7] The first local Carl’s Jr. was built in 1956 on the former Janss Street next to St. Boniface Catholic Church about half a block away from Anaheim High School. That former Carl’s Jr. is now the church’s Bethany Hall. The current flagship Carl’s Jr. is located at 1200 N. Harbor Blvd.[6] By the end of the 1950s, there were four Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Orange County, Calif. The restaurants also had a new supervisor, Donald F. Karcher, Carl’s younger brother, who would later become the company’s president.[8]

The 1960s

By the 1960s, Carl was operating 24 restaurants in Southern California. The company incorporated in 1966 as Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., and launched a major expansion of the chain in 1968. The menus were limited for faster service, featuring charbroiled hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and malts.[8]

The 1970s

A Carl’s Jr. in Rancho Cordova, California

By 1975, there were more than 100 Carl’s Jr. locations in Southern California, and the company expanded into the northern part of the state. Carl’s Jr. celebrated its success by building its Anaheim corporate headquarters in 1976. The following year, it became the first QSR chain to offer salad bars in all 200 locations. The first out-of-state restaurant opened in Las Vegas in 1979. By the end of the decade, sales exceeded the $100 million mark.[8]

The 1980s

Breakfast food served at a Carl’s Jr. in La Mesa, California in 2016. Carl’s Jr. first began serving breakfast in 1984.

In 1980, the company hired its 10,000th employee, doubling its employee count in just three years. In 1981, with 300 restaurants in operation, Carl Karcher Enterprises became a publicly held company. In 1984, Carl’s Jr. was franchised for the first time. Carl’s Jr.’s menu expanded during the decade with the addition of the Western Bacon Cheeseburger, breakfast items, a charbroiled chicken sandwich line and self-service soda fountains. By the end of the decade, sales topped $480 million at 534 restaurants. The company also opened its first international units in the Pacific Rim. In addition, Carl’s Jr. was one of the first chains to introduce a debit card payment system, inviting customers to use their ATM cards in the restaurants.[8]

In 1988, Karcher and his family were accused of insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. They had sold large quantities of stock before the price dropped. Karcher agreed to a settlement with the SEC and paid more than half a million dollars in fines.[9]

The 1990s

Former Carl’s Jr. in Denton, Texas. This location closed in 2018.

Carl’s Jr. chains had struggled to gain success in Arizona and Texas, perhaps diminishing hopes of expansion to other states, though later states like Nevada, Oregon and Washington proved successful. During the 1990s, Karcher and the board of directors began clashing, often publicly, over marketing and business practices, including the chain’s attempt at dual branding with such chains as The Green Burrito and its new advertising campaigns. Karcher was removed as chairman of the company by its board of directors on October 1, 1993.[10] Soon after, the board of directors took a new approach by cutting the menu, lowering prices, and introducing a new marketing campaign which targeted younger urban and suburban males.[7]

Following Don Karcher’s death in 1992, a new management team was installed in 1994, headed by CEO William P. Foley II and President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Thompson. Carl Karcher Enterprises became a wholly owned subsidiary of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.[8]

During the mid-1990s, Carl’s Jr. unveiled it’s “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face” campaign, which featured younger people eating Carl’s Jr.’s burgers with ketchup and juice dripping from the burger and onto clothes and other areas.[11]

In 1997, CKE Restaurants acquired Hardee’s, a restaurant chain with 2,500 locations in the MidwestSouth and East Coast regions.

The 2000s

In 2001, Carl’s Jr. introduced the Thickburger line with the 1/2 lb. Six Dollar Burger, with sister chain Hardee’s following in 2003.

In 2002, CKE Restaurants acquired Santa Barbara Restaurant Group, the parent company of the Green Burrito brand. Some of Carl’s Jr. stores are now co-branded with Green Burrito, as are some Hardee’s stores.[8]

In 2003, the company moved its headquarters to Carpinteria, Calif.[8]

In 2005, Carl’s Jr. introduced hand-scooped ice cream shakes.

On January 11, 2008, Carl Karcher, the founder of hamburger chain Carl’s Jr., died at the age of 90. A spokeswoman for CKE Restaurants said Karcher suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was being treated for Parkinson’s-related pneumonia when he died at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California. Many of Carl’s Jr. restaurants flew their flags at half-staff in memory of Karcher.[7]

The 2010s

In the 2010s, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s rolled out Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders. Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s began offering Charbroiled Turkey Burgers in 2011, marking another industry first by becoming the first national fast-food chains to offer Turkey Burgers.

In July 2010, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. was acquired by Columbia Lake Acquisition Holdings, Inc., an affiliate of Apollo Management VII, L.P. allowing CKE to continue to grow and succeed as a privately held company under the ownership of Apollo.

In 2011, Carl’s Jr. introduced made-from-scratch biscuits. On November 20, 2013, Roark Capital Group agreed to acquire CKE from Apollo for $1.65–$1.75 billion.


A portobello mushroom burger and fries from the Carl’s Jr. in Plaza SemanggiJakarta, Indonesia

In November 2015, Carl’s Jr. opened its 200th restaurant in Mexico. The brand first entered the market in 1991.

In August 2016, Carl’s Jr. opened its first location in India at Saket’s Select Citywalk Mall in Delhi.[13]

As of 2017, CKE (the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s) has a total of 3,665 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 39 foreign countries and U.S. territories. This includes restaurants in AustraliaBrazilCambodiaChileChinaDenmarkDominican RepublicEcuadorFranceJapanMexicoCosta RicaCanadaColombiaGuatemalaVietnamHondurasIndonesiaIndiaMalaysiaPakistanPanamaPhilippinesSingaporeSpainThailandTurkeyNicaraguaNew ZealandRussia, and Belarus.


CKE conducts an annual Stars for Heroes in-store fundraising campaign at both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s to benefit U.S. military veterans and their families. Since the program’s launch in 2011, Stars for Heroes has raised nearly $5 million.


In several Western U.S. locations, Carl’s Jr. parent CKE has begun operating co-branded restaurants with its Green Burrito group. This same strategy has also been used by Yum! Brands with its KFCPizza HutTaco BellA&W Restaurants, and Long John Silver’sconcepts to expand brands without the additional expense of new buildings and land.[14]

Paul Byrne