Hardee’s announced yesterday plans to expand into the Northeast, with hopes of opening some 200 restaurants in the next five years.

Hardee’s previously had restaurants in the Northeast, but exited the region prior to the burger franchise’s purchase by CKE Restaurants Holdings in 1997. CKE has over 3,200 franchised and company-owned restaurants, including more than 3,200 Carl’s Jr. restaurants and almost 2,000 Hardee’s restaurants.

The move represents was apparently a long time coming. “We’ve heard from residents all across the region for years, begging us to bring our food back to them,” said Jim Sullivan, senior vice president for domestic franchise develop for CKE, in a press release. “We just needed the right partner.”

Hardee’s decided to partner with franchisee Bhupen “Bob” Patel for the expansion. Patel was reportedly chosen for his knowledge of the industry and the area.

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The expansion will start in New Jersey and New York, prior to moving onward to Connecticut and Massachusetts. New restaurants are expected to open in the next 12 to 18 months. Eventually, Hardee’s hopes to open over 1,000 restaurants throughout the Northeast.

Hardee’s, known for its Made From Scratch biscuits and Thickburger hamburgers, was founded in 1960 in Greenville, N.C. Today, the chain has restaurants throughout the Southeastern and Midwestern U.S., and operates internationally in the Middle East.

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