Hardy, Har, Hardee’s

Have you eaten at a Hardee’s lately?

It had been quite a while for myself, but this past weekend I was traveling that lonesome highway and decided to take in the ambiance and style of the new Hardees in my hometown of Effingham. I was duly impressed.

If you’ve never heard of Hardee’s, I’m guessing you live on the west coast and know Carl Jr. instead. Carl Jr. bought Hardee’s in 1997.

Several years ago, the Hardee’s in Effingham burned to the ground. I was a little sad since that was where I worked for two summers during my early college years. I have fond memories of smelling like a grease pit for days on end, trying not to burn myself as a fry cook or take a finger off with the roast beef slicer and seeing how those Stop sign shaped quarter pound hockey pucks turned into meat for our customers. It was also a good experience with a boss who wasn’t my father.

Back then and for several years afterwards, I used to order a Mushroom and Swiss burger hold the mushroom because I dug Swiss cheese on my burger. I used to infuriate my father by ordering like I was Sally from When Harry Met Sally (I want ketchup, but on the side… are the tomatoes fresh?). I remember him about taking my head off because I was wasting our family’s time with my inane ordering style.

Hardees build a brand new restaurant in a growing part of Effingham and I was curious to see what it looked like. The interior was all wood and metal, almost an industrial look to the place. It wasn’t for kids like a McDonald’s, but it didn’t look like an Arby’s either. It was something like a cross between a typical fast-food joint and a Starbucks with a sheet metal theme.

Of course, the menu is what has drastically changed. I ordered a Thickburger and it was exactly what was advertised – a really good piece of meat with fresh fixings. On purpose, it reminded me of a burger you’d get at Fuddruckers or Ruby Tuesday’s. In fact, that’s Hardee’s plan – create a fast food equivalent burger to what you can get at a family style restaurant, but faster and without all the presentation. They succeed marvelously.

From now on, when I have a craving for a big-time cheeseburger and don’t really want to go to a family-type restaurant, Hardee’s is my choice. I never woulda thunk it.