Jan 16, 2008
Carl Karcher Jan 16, 1917
Millions of people loved his hamburgers, some hated his politics. He was a devout Christian attending mass every morning before work. He was a staunch Republican showing his support for ultra Conservatives. His restaurant career started with a hot dog cart and almost ended when he was bounced as chairman of the company he founded. [He was back in less than a year.]
Carl Karcher was born in Sandusky Ohio January 16, 1917. During the depression he was invited by his uncle to move to Anaheim California and work at his feed store for $18 dollars a week. Carl eventually moved on to a job delivering bread for a Los Angeles bakery.
On his bread route Carl saw that hot dog carts were springing up all over Los Angeles. Sensing a great business opportunity, he borrowed 300 bucks and created "The Blimp" a hot dog cart across from a Goodyear plant in L.A.. Soon the cart turned into three and in 1945 the carts spawned Carls Drive-In Barbecue in Anaheim. [Since Carl opened the restaurant on his birthday, today would have been the Barbeque's 63rd anniversary as well]
The thriving drive-in business in southern Ca. was a sort of loose fraternity and when the McDonald Brothers quit the biz to start a new kind of restaurant, news got around fast. After visiting McDonald's new restaurant, Carl started a smaller version of his own joint in 1956 & called it Carl's Jr., now a worldwide chain with over 3,000 stores.
Sadly, five days ago Carl Karcher passed away from pneumonia, just a few days shy of his 91st birthday. It is the end of an era.
Karcher was the last of the great fast food entrepreneurs. A group of guys who recognized the mobile culture growing in post war America. These pioneers remodeled the restaurant business with new kitchen techniques and franchised the ideas creating thousands of business opportunities and entry level jobs. You may disagree with the fast food menu but you can't argue with the fast food concept. The original ideas of good food and prompt service at fair prices will always be with us because of a few guys like Karcher who were hungry to succeed.
Carl's Jr. official site
Carl's Jr. Articcle at Wikipedia
Carl Karcher article at Wikipedia
Carl's related video just for giggles