In 1941 Carl had $326 and a dream.

Our founder, Carl N. Karcher was born January 16, 1917, in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He left school in the eighth grade to assist his parents on the family farm.

As a young man, Carl moved from Ohio to Anaheim, California, where he worked 12 hours, six days a week, at his uncle’s feed and seed store. In 1939, Carl was hired as a bread wrapper for Armstrong Bakery in Los Angeles, quickly earning a promotion to a sales and delivery position. Later that year, he married Margaret Heinz – a marriage that endured for more than 66 years and yielded 12 children, 51 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren. 

On July 17, 1941, Carl and Margaret purchased a hot dog cart for $326 using $15 cash and $311 borrowed on his 1941 Plymouth Super Deluxe. The first day’s sales totalled $14.75. The business grew quickly, and on January 16, 1945, Carl opened Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue in Anaheim, California. The first Carl’s Jr.® restaurants opened in 1956.

Margaret passed away in 2006, and Carl passed in 2008, leaving a legacy that continues to grow around the world.

In 1941 Carl had $326 and a dream.

Our founder, Carl N. Karcher was born January 16, 1917, in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He left school in the eighth grade to assist his parents on the family farm.

As a young man, Carl moved from Ohio to Anaheim, California, where he worked 12 hours, six days a week, at his uncle’s feed and seed store. In 1939, Carl was hired as a bread wrapper for Armstrong Bakery in Los Angeles, quickly earning a promotion to a sales and delivery position. Later that year, he married Margaret Heinz – a marriage that endured for more than 66 years and yielded 12 children, 51 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren. 

On July 17, 1941, Carl and Margaret purchased a hot dog cart for $326 using $15 cash and $311 borrowed on his 1941 Plymouth Super Deluxe. The first day’s sales totalled $14.75. The business grew quickly, and on January 16, 1945, Carl opened Carl’s Drive-In Barbecue in Anaheim, California. The first Carl’s Jr.® restaurants opened in 1956.

Margaret passed away in 2006, and Carl passed in 2008, leaving a legacy that continues to grow around the world.

Community Service

Carl was an active supporter and board member of many non-profit groups and encouraged community involvement within the company he founded. He chaired the 1978 and 1979 Orange County United Way campaign and raised more than $18 million.

He and his wife Margaret generously and enthusiastically contributed to many organisations and were long-time supporters of such groups as Providence Speech and Hearing Center and Lestonnac Free Clinic.

Awards & Honours

Carl and Margaret received a number of awards and honours over the course of their lives. Click below to see what they were.

List of Awards

2007
Honoured with a star on the Anaheim/Orange County Walk of Stars as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community pillar; only second to receive the honour behind Walt Disney.

2002
The Child Guidance Center honoured Carl with the Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award
Received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Providence Speech and Hearing Center
Cal State Fullerton honoured Carl with the 2002 Honorary Alumni Award, the highest honour they bestow upon their friends and supporters.

2001
Carl and Margaret Karcher were honoured by the Assistance League of Anaheim for their community work.

2000
Carl and Margaret Karcher were Honorary King and Queen for Rosary High School Royal Ball Dinner/Dance.
Carl and Margaret Karcher received the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for their significant contributions to education in America and to Catholic schools in particular. California Republican Party honoured Carl for Republican Of The Year.

1998
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Founder’s Day Award for personal commitment and philanthropic generosity to the university.
1998 Service Award from The Clair Burgener Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled.
Lifetime Achievement Recipient, Greater Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.
Monsignor Thomas A. Kiefer Humanitarian Award, Bishop Amat High School for contributions of time, energy and treasure to humanitarian projects in the greater Los Angeles area.

1997
California Trade and Commerce Agency added Carl Karcher’s name to the California Tourism Hall of Fame.
Humanitarian of the Year Award, North Orange County Family YMCA

1996
Assistance League of Newport Beach honours Carl and Margaret Karcher for their outstanding community volunteerism.
Ambassador of the Year Award, Legatus whose purpose is to make members better Catholics in their personal lives, their family relationships and their business management.

1995
Boys and Girls Clubs of America honour Carl with the Service to Youth Award for his 12 years of service as a member of the Pacific Board Group, a trustee, a member of the National Advisory Council and a National Associate.
Carl and Margaret Karcher were chosen as Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s “Sweetheart Couple” for the Valentasia benefit ball for their leadership and friendship to the school.
Reach Out Award from the YMCA Community Counseling Services.

1994
The Public Service Award from the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

1993
MUFSO (Multi-Unit Food Service Operators) Pioneer of the Year.

1992
Received the Giving is Living Award, Volunteer Center of Orange County.
Honoured by the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County and Sons of the American Revolution.
Cypress College’s Americana Man-of-the-Year.

1990
Spirit of Friendship Award from the Special Olympics for Carl’s outstanding contribution to those with special needs.
The Americanism Award from the Boy Scouts of America, Western Los Angeles County Council.

1989
Inducted into the College of Diplomats, Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association.
1989 Hall of Fame inductee, California Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation.

1987
Philanthropist Of The Year Award from the National Society of Fundraising Executives.

1983
MUFSO (Multi-Unit Food Service Operators) Man of the Year and Golden Chain Award from MUFSO.

1982
Served on the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (Grace Commission) to identify waste and inefficiency in government.
Free Enterprise Award from The San Fernando Valley Business & Professional Association.

1981
Pope John XXIII Award from the Italian Catholic Federation for “best exemplifying benevolent, philosophical and charitable principles.”

1980
Private Enterprise Exemplar Medal from Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania for active service to his community.

1979
Horatio Alger Award for his distinction in accomplishments through individual initiative, hard work and adherence to traditional ideals.

1978
Recipient of the Silver Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association, one of the most coveted distinctions in the foodservice industry.

1976
Carl was Knighted into the Order of Malta, one of the highest honours a layperson of the Catholic Church can attain.

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© 2019 CKE Restaurants Australia Pty Ltd.

HOME | EAT | HISTORY | FIND USJOIN US | CONTACT | PRIVACY | FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES

© 2019 CKE Restaurants Australia Pty Ltd

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