One day in 1960, Wilber Hardee visited the state’s first McDonald’s in 1960, sat in his parked car most of the day, and watched. In May 1961, he opened his own fast food establishment with a similar menu of milkshakes, fries and burgers – except his burgers featured his signature “char-grill.”
Wilber’s ownership was short-lived. The original story was he lost his namesake restaurant in a poker game – an account disputed by his partners, who said they simply bought him out. Regardless, Hardee’s lived on. By 1985, it was America’s fourth-largest burger chain, replacing Wendy’s in 3rd place for a time.
– The 100 Companies staff