Since 2001, when a court order closed three Hardee's restaurants in Rochester, local fans have been asking when the fast-food franchise would be returning.
Some news out of the Twin Cities concerning a major Hardee's push in Minnesota certainly holds some promise for local lovers of bacon cheddar fries.
CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns Hardee's and its southern sibling Carl's Jr., has an ambitious goal of opening more than 59 new Hardee's in the Twin Cities area in the next five years.
Let's put that number in perspective to comprehend what a huge Thickburger invasion this could be.
Right now, there are 25 Hardee's cooking in the entire state. The nearest to Rochester are in Winona, Faribault and Albert Lea.
With such interest in the state, could Rochester have a Hardee's in its future?
"I touched bases with the development team, and the focus right now is on Minneapolis," says Elayne Sommers of Fish Consulting. "With that being said, I couldn't get any more information on expansion in the Rochester area, so there could be interest there."
Hardee's slices the United States into Designated Metro Areas. The DMA that includes Rochester extends into Wisconsin and Iowa and already has five Hardee's in it.
Sommers says that, based on population, the Rochester DMA could handle another five of the restaurants.
So Rochester could be a good candidate for a Hardee's or two, but CKE only has eyes for the Twin Cities right now.
Depending on interest from franchisees, that could change.
For anyone interested, qualified franchisees are required to have a net worth of at least $1 million and a minimum liquidity of $300,000. Initial investment for a franchisee is $1.1 million.