Tastes like America? US burger chain Hardee’s is looking to come to Israel.
Global restaurant giant CKE Restaurants Holdings, which operates nearly 4,000 restaurants worldwide under the iconic fast-food brands Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., will be coming to Israel in December to seek a partner to launch the first Hardee’s branch in Israel. The company hopes to open 50 or more restaurants around the country over the coming years.
The launch would be part of Hardee’s expansion into the Middle East in recent years, it said. The brand was a pioneer of Western fast food in Kuwait in 1980, and now operates in 12 countries in the region.
There are now 420 Hardee’s based outside the US. CKE also operates restaurants in North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
Israel is the only market still open for Hardee’s in the Middle East, the company said.
The company will hold a private networking event with potential investors in cooperation with the Commercial Service Department at the US Embassy in Israel. Whether or not there will be kosher branches of the restaurant will depend largely on the partner, a representative said.
Hardee’s would be different from other fast-food chains by offering Israelis unique chargrilled burgers and hand-breaded chicken sandwiches at competitive prices, along with innovative limited-time offerings and exceptional service, the company said.
But Hardee’s would be entering a crowded market that is somewhat jaded by American chains. McDonald’s was a cultural phenomenon when it opened in Israel in 1993, and now has some 180 branches around Israel, with 50 of them under kosher supervision. Burger King opened in Israel in 1993 also, and then closed in 2010, and then reopened in 2016, with about a dozen branches around the county, most kosher.
Burger Ranch, a 40-year-old Israeli fast-food chain, also has dozens of branches around Israel.
In recent years, the market has trended away from fast-food burgers toward more upscale burger restaurants offering a wide variety of world-class options.
Hardee’s will have to invest significantly in developing its brand, which is virtually unknown among Israeli consumers. The company, whose logo includes a yellow star, has used a variety of slogans over the years, including its “Tastes like America” campaign in 2018.
Hardee’s was founded in 1960 in North Carolina, and was sold to CKE in 1997. In 2019, the chain had revenues of about $2 billion, placing it seventh among American burger chains, according to the Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.