NEW ULM - The fast food restaurant Hardee's will soon return to New Ulm with an updated menu.
The store is under construction between Westridge Road next to the New Ulm Walmart and the strip mall that contains GameStop and New Grand Moon Buffet. The 44,000-square foot building will be slightly smaller than other Hardee's restaurants. It will seat up to 66 people and feature a parking lot with 40 to 50 spots. The restaurant will have a drive-thru window, two street entrances and indoor electronics like wall-mounted televisions. The restaurant will feature daily specials.
Lionel Bolden, vice president for the Harmart Foods Inc. that owns the Marshall and Sleepy Eye Hardee's restaurants, said the Hardee's menu has dramatically changed since the chain left New Ulm about 10 years ago. The menu will focus on bigger, Angus burgers. Patrons of the previous Hardee's will still see several familiar items on the menu.
Hardee's originally opened in New Ulm in the 1970s. It was initially located on the Plaza Garibaldi site and then at the current Walgreens site.
Bolden is optimistic about the store's potential success. He said they picked the growth corridor on the western side of New Ulm to maximize their location. He said Hardee's has also been the only restaurant chain outside of McDonald's to see consistent sales increase over the last five years.
"[Hardee's] has found its own special niche with its menu. It has been able to be very competitive compared to the others," said Bolden.
The restaurant should also have a better transition into town because locals will be familiar with its menu from the Hardee's in Sleepy Eye, Bolden said.
The New Ulm Hardee's project is part of a larger expansion by Harmart Foods. The company is also working on building another Hardee's in Mankato.
Construction of the New Ulm location is currently under way and will be completed in late August. The store should be open to customers by at least the first week of September.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)