Carl’s Jr.’s in Miami + History

Carl’s Jr. plans to open 35 restaurant locations (including Hialeah) in South Florida. This news doesn’t shock me, considering the recent reopening of Fatburger in Tampa and the return of Jack in the Box to Orlando.

The first South Florida restaurant opened in Doral (a city in Miami-Dade County), which is not necessarily known as a hotbed for fast food but for Venezuelan cuisine. In that area, there are more arepas, cachapas, over-condimented burgers, and hot dogs than you can shake a stick at.

Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Carl’s Jr. in Doral, Florida

As a kid, I would visit Carl’s Jr. for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger during visits to my grandmother in California. Later, vacations to Las Vegas included at least one stop at the happy star.

The purchase of Hardee’s in 1997 is almost perfectly timed with their closing up shop in South Florida. And all of a sudden, Hardee’s had Carl’s Jr. charbroiled burgers, and Carl’s had a great breakfast.

It was a win-win if you ask me. Even though, during my yearly road trips in the South and Midwest, I only encounter Hardee’s, one is as good as the other.

Carl and Margaret Karcher Memorial Plaque at Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Carl and Margaret Karcher Memorial Plaque

Carl’s Jr. Food Pictures

Breakfast Burger from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Breakfast Burger with Hash Rounds
Steak Egg Burrito with Hash Rounds from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Steak and Egg Burrito with Hash Rounds
Breakfast Burger from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Breakfast Burger
Surrender to the Sourdough Poster at Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Surrender to the Sourdough Poster
Sourdough Burger from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Sourdough Burger
Chili Cheese Fries from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Chili Cheese Fries
Waiting Patiently for my Order at Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Waiting Patiently for my Order
Burger Beast at Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Burger Beast at Carl’s Jr. in Doral, Florida
Waffle Fries from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Waffle Fries
Fried Zucchini from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Fried Zucchini
Hand-breaded Chicken Tenders from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Hand-breaded Chicken Tenders
Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Jalapeño Double Cheeseburger
Charbroiled Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Charbroiled Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich
Chocolate Shake from Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Chocolate Shake

We almost forgot the apple turnover, so we went through the drive-thru.

Carl’s Jr.
5755 NW 87th Avenue
Doral, FL

Website –
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Monday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Tuesday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Wednesday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Thursday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday 6:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm

Carl’s Jr. History

Carl's Jr. 1960s-era Sign
Carl’s Jr. 1960s-era Sig

The Carl’s Jr. story began on July 17th, 1941, in Los Angeles, California, with a hot dog cart. Carl Karcher was working for Armstrong Bakery in Manhattan Beach, California. He started off wrapping bread but, through hard work, was promoted to delivery. While doing deliveries in Los Angeles, he came across a hot dog pushcart with a red umbrella for sale on the corner of Florence and Central.

Lou Richmond, who owned the stand, sold hot dogs, tamales, and drinks. It was for sale for $326. At that moment, Carl didn’t have the funds to take him up on the offer, and his wife Margaret didn’t like the idea of them going into debt to buy the cart. Back then, it wasn’t a practical idea since they were only a few years removed from the Great Depression.

But Carl was driven. He went to Bank of America to secure a $311 loan against his 1941 Plymouth. Funny enough, the other fifteen dollars came straight out of Margaret’s purse.

The cart the Karchers had bought was known as Hugo’s. The Goodyear blimp used a field near them, so Carl renamed it “The Blimp.” Sales for the first day of operation totaled $14.75, which was pretty good, considering they were selling ten-cent hot dogs, chili dogs, and tamales, with drinks at five cents.

Carl kept driving the bakery truck full-time and worked at The Blimp when he was off. Along with some hired help, Margaret worked the stand the rest of its operating hours.

Introducing Burgers

One of the Carl’s Hot Dog stands in the early 1940s.
One of the Carl’s Hot Dog stands in the early 1940s.

The cart did such brisk business that in May 1942, a second one followed, then a third in December, and their final cart in early 1943. This was all happening in the middle of World War II when rations were in full effect, and rings of baloney would be substituted for hot dogs.

Carl introduced hamburgers at his fourth cart. He used an ice cream scooper to portion out the burgers before cooking. His first burger was called the 49er, which was one-third of a pound of beef and sold for 49 cents. There was also a Texas Burger and a Burger Steak on a Bun, too. The addition of the burgers to their menu was a hit.

By December 1943, Carl was comfortable enough with his four carts to quit the bread route. The Karchers had been longing to return to Anaheim, California, and when the opportunity presented itself, they changed gears and opened a full-service restaurant.

On January 16th, 1945, Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue opened up for business. The thirty-seat establishment also had enough parking to accommodate thirty cars. Margaret waited on tables, and Carl cooked up the grub.

On the first day, they took in a very respectable $77.64. When hamburgers were added to the menu in 1946, six burgers could fit at a time on the small fifteen-inch grills. But trouble loomed for the Karchers. The owners of the restaurant property didn’t renew the lease and planned to open their restaurant in the same space.

The Karchers were given thirty days to leave the premises.

Carl had to think quickly. He ended up buying a garage on his father-in-law’s property. After four weeks of revamping their new space, they moved into it on the thirtieth day. All of the equipment and furnishings from the original spot made it to the new restaurant.

Here Comes Carl’s Jr.

In 1956, rather than expand the larger concept of Carl’s Drive-In Barbecues, Carl opened two Carl’s Jrs. in Anaheim and Brea, which were only a hop and a skip away from each other. These smaller restaurants were takeout only. After ordering at the window, you could sit down at one of the picnic tables under an awning and enjoy your food.

This was also the year that the company officially became known as Carl’s Jr. At the close of the 1950s, there were four Carl’s Jr. restaurants. Carl’s younger brother, Donald F. Karcher, was then running them and became president in a few years. When the company was incorporated as Carl Karcher Enterprises in 1966, they were up to twenty-four locations in Southern California.

Expanding the Brand

Taco de Carlos ad June 30th, 1976
Taco de Carlos ad June 30th, 1976

The company would try many new concepts over the following years, but none of them had any legs. There were the railroad-themed Carl’s Whistle Stop and Scot’s Family Restaurants in the mid-1960s, the Sunshine Broiler in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and probably the best known of these test concepts was Taco de Carlos. This Mexican-themed restaurant appeared in the early 1970s and reached a peak of seventeen locations in early 1979.

Between March and April of 1982, eleven Taco de Carlos spots were sold to Del Taco, two to Naugles, and two to Taco Bell. In the late 1960s, the Happy Star, as he is now known, became the company mascot. Early 1970s ads referred to the star with a face and shoes as “Starman.” In 1975, the company expanded to Northern California after passing a hundred locations mark. Four years later, they opened their first out-of-state restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Carl Karcher Enterprises, or CKE, went public in October 1981 with 1.45 million shares of stock offered at $13.50 a share. The money raised was used to expand the number of restaurants, which in 1981 totaled three hundred.

Carl’s Jr. had come a long way since their original hot dog cart at this point. The addition of franchising and a menu expansion in 1984 helped them to grow to 534 locations by the end of the decade.

In 1997, Carl’s Jr. purchased Hardee’s to add to its restaurant lineup. Today, Carl’s Jr. can be found mostly on the West Coast, while Hardee’s is mainly on the East Coast.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s currently have over 3,800 locations in forty-four states and 40 foreign countries.

The history of Carl’s Jr. first appeared in my book, All About the Burger: A History of America’s Favorite Sandwich.

When Did Carl’s Jr. in Doral, Florida Open?

So that brings us up to speed; a CKE (their parent company) restaurant is opening in South Florida, and it’s reason to rejoice, folks. I’ll be there when Carl’s Jr. opens for Thickburgers, chicken tendies, and waffle fries. If you’re closer to the front of the line, I only ask that you allow this Beast to cut.

Grand Opening at Carl's Jr. in Doral, Florida
Grand Opening at Carl’s Jr. in Doral, Florida

Carl’s Jr. in Doral, Florida, opened officially on Tuesday, March 12th, 2024. Doral Mayor Christi Fraga was on hand to say a few words.

Doral Mayor Christi Fraga and Owner Ronald Santolaya at the Carl's Jr. Grand Opening in Doral, Florida
Doral Mayor Christi Fraga and Owner Ronald Santolaya at the Carl’s Jr. Grand Opening

Plans are already underway for other South Florida locations, including Hialeah, Kendall, Ft. Lauderdale, Delray Beach, and West Palm Beach.

Full Press Release for Carl’s Jr. Coming To South Florida

Cision PR NewswireCarl’s Jr. and RSMG to bring bold and flavorful brand to South Florida

FRANKLIN, Tenn., July 11th, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr.® restaurants, announced today that the brand is bringing its iconic big, bold flavors to South Florida with its first restaurant in partnership with RSMG Holding LLC and Retail & Food International Brand. The Carl’s Jr. opening in Doral, Florida is planned for late 2023 and marks the brand’s first location in Florida.

The first South Florida Carl’s Jr. restaurant will boast the brand’s newly refreshed look while featuring fan favorite Carl’s Jr. menu items including 100% Black Angus Thickburgers®, Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™, sandwiches and more.

“Carl’s Jr. is known for serving impossible to ignore flavors, so we are excited to bring our iconic brand to South Florida where audacious is a lifestyle and we’re sure to fit in,” said Chris Bode, chief operating officer of CKE Restaurants. “South Florida is an important part of our growth strategy and we’re thrilled to welcome the South Florida community to experience our fan-favorite, authentically crafted menu items whenever the craving hits.”

Ron Santolaya, Owner, and Managing Director of RSMG, and partners Milko Grbic and Claudio Fernandez are leading a team of investors with the primary mission of bringing Carl’s Jr. to Florida and positioning the brand as a market leader. RSMG is expected to break ground on the first Doral, Florida location in summer 2023, CKE Restaurants and RSMG are actively searching for new real estate partners with drive thru capabilities and working to develop 35 Carl’s Jr. locations across the South Florida region. Santolaya has extensive and successful experience leading RSMG’s operations of Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America for almost four decades.

“The CKE brands are beloved by people all over the world and we look forward to introducing this iconic brand to Florida with the opening in Doral,” said Santolaya. “This expansion will allow Carl’s Jr. to reach the South Florida community for the first time and offer a refreshing, new dining experiences.”

Currently, Carl’s Jr. has more than 1,000 locations throughout the western part of the United States with a strong presence in California where the company was born more than 80 years ago. Additionally, the brand boasts an international footprint across 35 countries including 300-plus restaurants in Mexico. For more information about Carl’s Jr., or to find the nearest restaurant to you, please visit

About CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. 
CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (“CKE”), a privately held company based in Franklin, Tennessee, runs and operates Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, two beloved brands, known for one-of-a-kind premium and innovative menu items such as 100% Black Angus Thickburgers®, Made from Scratch™ Biscuits and Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™. With both a U.S. and international footprint, Carl’s Jr. Restaurants LLC and Hardee’s Restaurants LLC have over 3,900 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 35 foreign countries and U.S. territories. For more information about CKE, please visit or its brand sites at and

About RSMG Holding LLC and Retail & Food International Brand
RSMG Holding LLC® is the exclusive partner in Florida to operate Carl’s Jr., one of the most popular international QSR brands in the world serving iconic charbroiled burgers. Retail and Food International Brand (R&F IB) serves as the administrative and operational branch of RSMG by carrying out administrative functions that are optimal for scaling restaurant operations in the Florida market. Carl’s Jr. is one of the largest burger brands in the world, with more than 3,800 restaurants in over 28 countries.

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