Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lost Hardee's

Place: Hardee's
Lunch: 1/3 lb Original Thickburger (no lettuce, no tomato), 3-piece Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders (w/ranch), Coke

There was an old eighties Hardee's building on this very lot until last fall.  It stopped being a Hardee's at least a decade ago.  Then it was Car City.  Then it was some other used car place.  Then it sat empty.  So imagine my surprise to come down this road a couple weeks ago and find the old building gone and in its place...a brand new Hardee's.  Up and running even.

Freaky, man.

I didn't even notice the old building had been demolished, let alone anything new being constructed.  And I come down this road pretty regularly.

Smiling Counter Girl, in chatting with a to-go customer, claims business is "slow".  She should have seen the (lack of) business the old store did.

Anyway, this new building got me thinking about all the old Hardee's that used to be in town.  In the late 1990's, we had a dozen of them in operation.  Only two of those locations were in business recently, and only one of those is still in the eighties building.  We have four Hardee's in town now with the addition of this one and another new one constructed on the east side about five years ago.

What happened to the others?  There were serious business problems with the company as a whole after CKE Enterprises (the parent company of Carl's Jr) bought Hardee's from Canadian tobacco giant Imasco.  It resulted in a lot of closures...a staggering number of them here.

Some of the old buildings still stand, some were demolished to make way for new things.  I thought it would be fun to look back at the old stores in the area, one by one.

Yes, I did this all off the top of my head, and yes, it is ridiculous that I would have all of that information at the ready off the top of my head.

WARNING: This will be horribly boring for you non pop-culture types.

Merle Hay Road: There were two...this one (south of Merle Hay & Douglas) and up north in Johnston.  The Johnston store became a Christian-themed restaurant called "The Rock" for awhile, which had a menu all over the place.  I used to get tacos there, but they also had Helen & Pat's cavatelli, a signature dish from another long gone local restaurant (called Helen & Pat's, of course).  The building today houses a full-service Mexican restaurant.

East 14th & Euclid: The building was demolished to make way for Family Dollar parking, but a new Hardee's sits catty corner from the lot on the old Sonic Drive-In property.  Sonic was only there a few years.  Dixie's Furniture was there prior to that.  We had a TV/entertainment center stand from Dixie's that looked like it was hand-built at the store by somebody who was bored and in abundant supply of lumber.  That thing was freaking heavy and solid as a rock.  I think a friend of mine still has it.

SE 14th & Park:  Family Video is there now, just south of the Kum & Go.  Not sure I ever ate there.

Hubbell Ave: The building, almost unrecognizable, is now a KFC-Taco Bell.

SW 9th & Army Post Rd: Still in business, but in a new building next to where the old building was, which has been demolished.  Good riddance.  That building was in TERRIBLE shape.

Fleur & McKinley:  This was originally a Burger Chef and had the old white Hardee's signage until it was demolished in the name of airport runway clearance or something.  If you search "Burger Chef Star Wars" on YouTube, chances are the resulting commercial will show the address for this location, as well as the Marshalltown Burger Chef, tagged at the end.  (The Marshalltown Burger Chef is now Taco John's, which is across the street from the current Hardee's, which I believe is originally where Sandy's was.  Both chains were eventually acquired by Hardee's.)

Ingersoll Ave: My go-to Hardee's back when I lived and worked nearby.  It was nice the drive-thru was open 24 hours since I was working overnights, and the drive-thru was seemingly always busy overnight. Building now houses Abelardo's, which I blogged about recently.

Ankeny: The building now houses a vet clinic.  This Hardee's holds the distinction of being the only one where I heard live music.  The manager had an acoustic duo coming in one night a week "just to try it out", he told me, back in the early nineties.  I think this was also the first Hardee's where I saw a Roy Rogers "fixins bar", which Hardee's tried out (along with Roy Rogers fried chicken) back then.

Altoona: This was a Hardee's for like five minutes before closing.  It was the last of the old Hardee's buildings to be built in town.  It was a Godfather's Pizza for years, and is now a pretty bad and therefore wildly popular barbecue joint.

Clive: Still a Hardee's, the only eighties Hardee's building still in business in town.  This was the first in town to get charbroilers, and the first to get the Thickburger menu, which was still being tested at the time.  They've recently remodeled the exterior.  They NEED to remodel the interior, which is from the original construction and is in HORRIBLE shape.  They're supposedly doing that soon.

Flying J Truck Stop, Clive:  There was a Hardee's within the truck stop that has the distinction of being the last Hardee's in town with the pre-Carl's Jr menu.  They had a weird drive-thru setup.  The truck stop today is under the Love's brand, and the old Hardee's space is empty, though it was something else for awhile.  They re-landscaped the old drive-thru lane so that a drive-thru would no longer be possible today.  Unless they re-re-landscaped it.  Which would be dumb.

Pleasant Hill: This was demolished to make way for Hy-Vee Gas.  I remember eating lunch there once when the manager was going to every table and inspecting the salt shakers because a busload of kids had just eaten there and he could "hear them cracking" (the salt shakers, to break off the bottoms so when customers picked them up, all the salt would escape from the bottom and make a big mess).

Indianola: This was the first Hardee's anywhere near the metro to get charbroilers and a proper Carl's Jr interior.  Now Arby's.

Ames Duff Ave: This is was where I found out about the CKE purchase of the chain when the manager put up Happy Star flags on the building.  The building...what was left of now Panera Bread.  They demolished the majority of the structure, leaving up only three walls (the front and side walls of the dining area and the back wall) and built new from there.  Not even the roof is original.  But the dining room windows are.

Ames Campustown: Can't remember.  I think they split it up into different businesses.

Ames North Grand Mall: They had a space in the mall with exterior entrances.  It was Diamond Dave's after that.  I don't think anything's there now.

So anyway, there you go.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stuck on Band-Aid

Place: Burger King
Lunch: Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper (no lettuce, no tomato), onion rings (w/zesty sauce), 4-piece chicken nuggets, Coke

Smiling Counter adult in a shirt and tie...starts pointing out specials to me while I try to determine by the menu board if my beloved Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper is still on the menu.  My cousin @a103990 was told it wasn't at some BK out east.  But Smiling Counter Guy assures me they still have it, even if all the signage is gone.  Score.

BK is promoting new chicken nuggets.  Seems to me they were also promoting new chicken nuggets just a few months ago.  So are these NEW new chicken nuggets, or just the same new chicken nuggets?  The answer...they're NEW new.  They're identical clones to McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.  And by 'identical', I mean I don't think you could tell the difference in a taste test.

So while typing away at work this morning, I noticed my finger bleeding for unknown reasons.  I cleaned it up and went hunting for a band-aid.  Couldn't find any in the first aid kit.  So I went with Plan B (wrapped it in Scotch tape) and stopped by Target to pick some up.

Last time I remember shopping for Band-Aids, I recall two options...plastic or sheer.  You could buy the main "Band-Aid" brand or you could buy the generic store version, but that's as fancy as it got.

Somewhere between then and now, everything has changed.

There were like a half dozen different "Band-Aid" types with all sorts of ridiculous references to "technology".

There WERE the traditional plastic strips.  Then there's flex-fabric.  There's sheer.  There's clear  There's all sorts of designer ones for kids with Barbie and others printed on them.  There's strips with built-in antibiotics.  There's "ultra-strips" that "mimics your skin's natural surface for breathable protection".  And my personal favorite..."TOUGH STRIPS", which are "fiber reinforced, like duct tape".

They actually made a comparison to duct tape.

So yeah...those are the ones I bought.

And when did Band-Aids start costing like three bucks for a pack of 20?  Jeepers.  Even the generic ones were near that price range.  Maybe it costs that much to have their "Quiltvent technology", which "creates air channels for superior breathability" and "wicks away blood to keep wounds clean".

That's what it says on the package, anyway.

So either Band-Aids have become way more evolved, or their marketing team has.

I'm betting it was the marketing team.