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Brittany McCracken remembers eating her first cheeseburger at the State Road Hardee’s. This week, she’ll be serving them.

It’s been nearly a decade since Thickburgers sizzled on the grill, but after three weeks of build out, four intensive days of training and hundreds of test meals, the South Side restaurant will reopen Wednesday morning

About half of the restaurant’s 55 employees took part in a “go live” test Monday. For most of the day-time crew, like McCracken, it was the culmination of a crash course in fast food service.

Landscapers were installing sod and gravel as the soda machine got a tune-up. A corporate trainer pulled her car up to the drive-through and ordered burgers to simulate the “real world” pressure they can expect after opening.

“Work your way through it,” was the advice from Dave Sundby, a Hardee’s franchise business consultant. “Stay calm and let it work itself out.”

The crew will get a break today as the restaurant gets some final polish. There are still a few loose ends — lights to be hung, a few more employees to hire.

But come 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Harmon said, “It’s time to rock and roll.”

Things have changed since the last Hardee’s closed its doors in January 2005. A new Festival Foods store that opened across the street in 2011 has increased traffic to the area. The Hardee’s is under new ownership — it will be the 101st franchise operated by Eau Claire-based Northland Restaurant Group, the nation’s second largest Hardees franchisee.

And with its signature Thickburger and fresh-baked buns, the fast food chain is growing again, said Jerry Harmon, senior director of operations for Northland.

“Hardees is just coming back,” he said. “It’s really coming back.”

Eventually there was a lull in the mayhem, and the workers gathered around Sundby, who told half of them to go out front and place an order.

“If you want a Monster burger, you order a Monster burger,” he told them. “This is your chance to try it.”

After placing her order — a quarter-pound “Little Thickburger” — McCracken sat with her fellow cashiers and waited to be served.

“I’m gonna need some ketchup,” Jazznique St. Junious joked as one of the managers delivered her burger.

McCracken, 20, currently works at Valley View Mall, where she said there’s a buzz about the reopening of Hardees.

“Ah, that’s good,” she said, taking a bite of the burger, delivered with no onion, no tomato, no mustard. “Just the way I like it.”

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(13) comments

Faust

I loved Hardees up until they've recently decided to use 'tax inversion' to avoid paying corporate taxes in the U.S. I'm a little less inclined to eat at Hardees right now.

Are U.S. corporate taxes high? Maybe, but so is the opportunity to play here.

jharrimjr

I'm happy that Hardee's is back, but something struck me as peculiar about the 55 workers. If this store is open 18 hrs/day, 7 days/week, you'd have 126 hours of business per week. Now multiply those business hours by a conservative 4 crew positions per hour for each of those 126 hours per week. Divide that by 55 employees and I get 9.16 hours of week per employee if each employee was given equal hours. At $8 per hour (a generous estimate) the AVERAGE worker, at the AVERAGE number of hours makes $72 per week. Of course, some workers will work more hours, some less than 9 hours per week. Something is wrong with how these businesses are run and the larger macro-economic effect these "service industry" jobs have on our economy. Seems to me, it would be better to hire FEWER people, give them FT hours and pay and benefits.

TheNewCrusade2016

Minimum wage in 1975 was $2.31 an hour. Gas (a staple) was roughly 60 cents a gallon. So, a minimum wage worker was paid 4 gallons of gas per hour. Now he is paid 2 gallons of gas per hour. So, $14 would bring it back to 1975 levels.

jharrimjr

New Crusader in old Conservacant skins. Glad you see the income inequality in our current minimum wage situation. It should be raised to between $10 and $15 per hour. And the evil vice of extensive temp services were not a major player in the US economy. They (and the companies that use them) should have been regulated; now I'm inclined to think they should be even MORE heavily regulated. Or Banned.

truth_hurts

I am truly amazed that the Hardees building sat empty for the entire duration of their closing.

A little history on the site, the Hardees closing, and the years it sat empty would have made an interesting article.

Welcome back Hardees. I do enjoy your burgers now and again when I need a quick fix.

River Rat

When I was a kid McDonald's came out with the Quarter Pounder and by all comparisons, it was huge. Now a quarter-pound burger is called a "Little Thickburger". No wonder there is an obesity epidemic in this country.

easy

Cousin's make a good loaf of bread, and will sell it for 2.50. We do it once in a while, very good for polish sausage or the like.

Bozoputer

Grow up .

RINO Cowboy

Thank you $cott Walker. Will he be here for the obligatory self-congratulation photo op during the inaugural burger flip?

Lefty

RINO - Why do you make such stupid comments? Apparently sitting on your brain.

america as founded

Typical liberal democrat. "You can't fix Stupid".

jharrimjr

Lefty and unfounded, Typical Conservcant Wefumbleditagains. "You can't fix stupid!" And trust me, your group's IQs have the lion's share of it. Now where is Snotty Wanker? He created "jobs!" (See my previous post on whether they support a single, much less a family on them).

Machiavelli

Hardee's has improved its offerings: it's now much better than McDonald's and Burger King, but still behind Wendy's, although both Wendy's and Hardee's, like Subway's, could use a few baking lessons. The bread is important, but only Jimmy John's in town seems to get that.

"The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America"

http://theweek.com/article/index/264656/the-11-worst-fast-food-restaurants-in-america

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