"Have It Your Way" was a trademarked advertising slogan for Burger King that many of you will remember. Since its beginning in 1954, Burger King has become a huge fast food chain surpassed only by McDonald's in sales. Burger King Restaurants are located in all 50 U.S. states and in 30 other countries. You can find Burger King Restaurants from Australia to the Bahamas and from Venezuela to Hong Kong.
Burger King was started in Florida by James McLamore and David Edgerton around the same time that the McDonald brothers and Colonel Sanders were starting their chains. The headquarters for the company is still in Florida. Both McLamore and Edgerton had extensive experience in the restaurant business before starting their joint venture. They became successful because they stuck firm to their original beliefs that they should provide the customer with reasonably priced, quality food, served quickly, in attractive, clean surroundings.
Eighteen cents was the price of a hamburger when the doors of Burger King first opened in 1954, and people could watch the hamburgers being made on the unique broiler which cooked over 400 hamburgers an hour. Three years later, the Whopper sandwich first appeared on the Burger King menu. This sandwich became very popular immediately. More than 500 million Whoppers are sold every year. The company's newest products are "finger foods" such as Chicken Tenders and French Toast Sticks.
McLamore and Edgerton acquired the national and international franchising rights to the company in 1961. Franchising helped to quickly increase the growth of the company. In 1964, "Whopper College" was founded to provide restaurant managers with technical operational knowledge. The college is now called Burger King University and is located near the company headquarters. Burger King also went international in 1964, opening two restaurants in Puerto Rico. In 1967, the Pillsbury Company acquired Burger King as a subsidiary.
Burger King, like the other fast food chains, has always tried to meet the customer's needs. It was the first fast food chain to introduce inside dining areas. And for "on-the-go" customers, drive-thru service was initiated in 1975. New products are introduced frequently to meet changing tastes. The bacon double cheeseburger hit the market in 1982 and the salad bar in 1983.
Hardee's, a Regional Chain
Hardee's was founded in 1961 and was successful from the start, according to Wilbur Hardee, one of the three founders. By the early 1970s, the chain had more than 300 stores in the Southeast. Much of its growth into new areas came by acquisitions. In 1972, Hardee's purchased the Sandy's Chain, which gave them a position in the Midwest. Then ten years later, after IMASCO had acquired Hardee's, the 650-store Burger Chef Chain was purchased from General Mills, and most of the units became a part of the Hardee's chain. By 1983, there were 2,000 Hardee's units. In 1988, Hardee's had 3,000 units even though the chain had no restaurants in the West or Northeast. The chain plans to continue to grow through acquisitions and by opening new units.
Part of the chain's success is due to its broad menu and breakfast program. Each day, nearly one million Rise 'N Shine homemade biscuits are made from scratch and served to Hardee's ever-growing group of breakfast customers. Some Hardee's executives thought that biscuits would never sell up North, but the customers quickly proved them wrong. Hardee's gets a higher percentage of its sales from breakfast than any other restaurant, which the chain attributes to the popularity of its tasty biscuits.
Wendy's, One of the Hamburger Giants
In a market that already seemed saturated, R. David Thomas felt that his new idea for making old-fashioned hamburgers was good enough to jump right into the competition. In 1969, he opened the first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers in Columbus, Ohio. The restaurant was named after one of his daughters.
Wendy's emphasized the made-to-order philosophy. The company had high-quality food; fast, friendly service; and a pleasant dining atmosphere. The chain grew quickly and today has over 3,700 units. Much attention focused on Wendy's in 1984 when the chain ran the "Where's the beef?" commercials on television.
Wendy's is capturing its part of the fast food dollar by pinpointing consumer trends. It has introduced new items like the salad bar in 1979, which was expanded in 1988 into the 18-foot Super-Bar featuring a hot and cold buffet.
More and More Burgers
The first fast food restaurants were small-time businesses in which the owner usually worked right in the restaurant serving food and working the cash register. However, once fast food restaurants caught on, more and more chains started.
Burger Chef. In Indianapolis, Burger Chef was one of the many new hamburger chains opened in 1958. It was founded by some executives who worked in the business of restaurant equipment manufacturing. Burger Chef was quite a successful hamburger chain. It was purchased first by General Foods, then by Hardee's.
Jack in the Box. This chain established its name by making drive-thru windows the focus of its business. The restaurant had one window for drive-thru customers and another window for walk-up customers. For speed of service, a menu board and a microphone were placed three car lengths back from the drive-thru window. The restaurant could serve four cars in three minutes.
Jack in the Box executives were always experimenting with ways to make restaurants more efficient. They tried having employees go beyond the regular ordering microphone with another microphone so that they could get orders from cars further back in the long lines that would form during peak periods.
Fuddruckers: With the idea of offering self-serve gourmet burgers, Fuddruckers opened its door in San Antonio, Texas, in 1979. The restaurant also had a display butcher shop and a bakery. Fuddruckers served large, juicy gourmet burgers to thousands of people, and within six years they were busy opening 150 units.
Still More Chains: There are a great number of chains that sell hamburgers. Other chains that have a notable share of the hamburger market are Roy Rogers, Carl's Jr., Sonic Drive-In, Whataburger, and Krystal.