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Carl’s Jr., Hardee's Are Wooing McDonald's 'Deprived' Angus Eaters

Carl’s Jr., Hardee's Are Wooing McDonald's 'Deprived' Angus Eaters

Photograph by Karin Hildebrand Lau

The Angus burger wasn’t McDonald’s’ (MCD) most popular item, but the chain’s decision last month to cut the pricey sandwich still left some devotees in denial.

Then they became angry and depressed.

Then they just felt hungry.

Now CKE Restaurants (APO), which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, is courting these diners—and very directly, too. The company said in a press release on Monday that it was “offering understanding as well as continued, premium-quality Black Angus beef burgers to fast food fans feeling mcburned by McDonald’s’ recent discontinuation of their Angus Third Pounder burger line.” In a YouTube (GOOG) video, CKE Restaurants Chief Executive Officer Andy Puzder said, “If you’re wondering where the beef is, we have it, and we’d never deprive you of it.” The company bought ad space in USA Today, and to lure price-conscious diners, it began offering coupons at

Carl’s Jr. has offered a line of Angus burgers since 2001 and Hardee’s since 2003, though you couldn’t tell from the names. At Carl’s Jr. they’re dubbed Six Dollar Burgers (they really cost about $4.99, to make things more confusing) and Hardee’s calls them Thickburgers. Each restaurant currently sells an average 100 Angus burgers daily at both brands, Puzder says.

Sales of the Six Dollar Burger actually increased for a period when McDonald’s was testing its Angus burgers in L.A. before it launched the product in 2009, he adds. “Their L.A. promotion was a help to us. Everyone knew we already had it.” Now the company sees a chance to remind consumers again.

“You can’t be the premium and the discount product place. [McDonald's] had to make a choice and they chose to be a discount product place,” Puzder says. “It really leaves the premium, sit-down, restaurant-quality burger at a fast food joint to us.”

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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